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Group of 500 migrants crosses Melilla border in biggest fence jump to date

Influx of undocumented sub-Saharans so far this year is triple 2013 monthly average

Migrants jump the Melilla border fence. ATLAS

Around 500 sub-Saharan immigrants succeeded in jumping the border fence separating the Spanish exclave of Melilla from Moroccan territory early Tuesday morning.

The massive run on the fence took place around 8am near Nano river, several sources confirmed. This is the largest jump to date.

A high-ranking official at the Spanish Interior Ministry called the event “very worrisome” and said it underscored “the severe migratory pressure on both autonomous cities,” a reference to Ceuta and Melilla, Spain's two exclaves in North Africa.

The undocumented migrants, who say they come from Mali and Senegal, immediately headed for the local temporary immigrant holding center (CETI) amid jubilant cries of “Bosa, bosa,” which witnesses said means “victory.”

In January and February, 530 immigrants managed to enter Spanish territory by making it over Melilla’s barbed-wire fence. That is triple the monthly average for last year, which saw a total of 1,074 undocumented migrants slip in.

Last Sunday, the Spanish Civil Guard and Moroccan police repelled a coordinated attempt by around 200 sub-Saharans to storm the fence in small groups.

Spain has requested financial assistance from the European Union to police the borders. Meanwhile, Ceuta and Melilla have announced a summit on March 27 to deal with the issue of illegal immigration.