This massive attempt to enter one of the two Spanish enclaves located on the northern coast of Morocco is the first since the normalization of relations in mid-March between Madrid and Rabat after nearly a year of diplomatic estrangement.
The Spanish police spotted “around 6:40 am, a group of migrants formed by more than 400 people” approaching the border, said a spokesman for the prefecture.
“Despite the large security apparatus of the Moroccan forces, which actively collaborated and coordinated with the Spanish law enforcement agencies, “a large group of people from sub-Saharan African countries, perfectly organized and violent, forced the entrance and broke the border control access gate” before entering Melilla, he said.
Madrid and Rabat recently sealed their reconciliation after Madrid’s decision in mid-March to publicly support the Moroccan autonomy plan for Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony controlled 80% by Morocco but claimed by the Sahrawi separatists in the Polisario Front, supported by Algeria.
This decision had made it possible to put an end to a diplomatic crisis caused by the reception in Spain of the leader of the Polisario, Brahim Ghali, in April 2021 to be treated there for Covid-19.
This crisis was marked by the entry in May 2021 of more than 10,000 migrants in 24 hours into the enclave of Ceuta, thanks to a relaxation of border controls on the Moroccan side.
Just before the reconciliation between the two countries, Melilla had been the scene in early March of several mass entry attempts, including the largest ever recorded in this enclave with some 2,500 migrants. Nearly 500 had succeeded.
The normalization of relations between Rabat and Madrid allowed the reopening in May of border posts between northern Morocco and Ceuta and Melilla.
These two enclaves are the EU’s only land borders on the African continent and are regularly the subject of attempted entry by migrants seeking to reach Europe.