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Ceuta border reinforcements urged amid rising migrant influx
BORDER guards at the fence in Spain's city-province of Ceuta on the northern Moroccan coast have called for reinforcements as the wave of migrants climbing the chain-link netting between two continents increases by the day.
Many migrants travel for months from all over Africa and lie in wait in Morocco until they see their chance to clamber over the six-metre (19'6”) fence onto Spanish soil, getting through to the enclave which lies directly across the Strait of Gibraltar.
Others do the same in Melilla, another outpost of Spain on the Moroccan coast, near the Algerian border, but less so given that the sea crossing from there to the mainland is longer.
However, once they reach either Ceuta or Melilla, they can get to the rest of Spain by ferry or air without a passport, since they are merely travelling from one region to another within the same country.
Most stay in Spain and attempt to eke out a living by sellling low-quality goods in the street, constantly dodging police, working round the clock for a few euros a day if they are lucky and living crowded together in one room – but even this bleak scenario, which is far from the European paradise they thought they would find, is still better than the life they led in Africa and, by being extremely frugal, they can eventually save up to send money home to their families.
Such is their desperation to get through and escape extreme poverty, armed conflict and political turmoil that they have been known to use violence if police attempt to stop them.
During the Ebola epidemic in Africa, Guardia Civil officers at the border said many Africans spat at them shouting, 'Ebola' to try to keep them away by making them think they would catch the disease if they got too close.
Border guards say they have been threatened with knives and other home-made weapons, especially by 'very young migrants in excellent physical condition', many of whom get past the barrier by way of 'unusual levels of violence' and 'extreme persistence'.
So far, 29 officers have been treated for injuries in the last year, although the Guardia Civil has not revealed how many migrants have suffered wounds either as a direct results of the climb – thanks to the razor-sharp spikes on top of the fence – or through physical confrontations with police.
In Ceuta alone, without even counting Melilla, guards at Spain's land border with Africa have stopped 2,661 migrants in the past year – 71% more than in the previous.
They say the fence is 'no longer serving its purpose' and call for a 'new and efficient early-detection system' involving high-tech equipment and 'passive obstacles' to 'dissuade, prevent or at least render more difficult' the illegal passage.
But as yet, no system has ever managed to 'dissuade or prevent', since the migrants are so determined to cross the border that they come up with ever-more ingenious ways of doing so.
Human trafficking networks, mafias, rogue fishermen and other rackets with 'high levels of knowledge and familiarity' of the border layout have helped 'stimulate the massive influx' of migrants, Guardia Civil officers reveal.
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