On early morning of 6 April, 55 people of a group of around 260 managed to jump the fence between Morocco and the Spanish enclave Melilla. 20 were injured. Rights organisation call for their right to request international protection and hygienic measures against Covid-19 to be put in place.

Out of 260 people who attempted to cross the border fence, 38 were rejected and returned to the Moroccan authorities, 55 crossed into Spain and the rest stayed on the Moroccan side, according to Spanish authorities. Around 20 were injured and treated by the Red Cross outside of the immigrant centre (CETI) which is under quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic. Four of them were taken to the hospital for bone fractures and a head injury, the Red Cross reported. The Moroccan Human Rights Association reports that many of those left on the Morrocon side were wounded but returned to the nearby forests without treatment. Two Spanish officers were injured according to the Guardia Civil. Those who crossed will be transferred to an area close to V Pino, where they will undergo sanitary control, Spanish authorities said.

Spain’s Interior Minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, announced that the “usual procedures” would be put in place, but clarified that returns were not possible as the border with Morocco remained closed. He also assured that the necessary measures will be taken to guarantee the health of citizens and immigrants.

Amnesty International stresses that their right to request international protection, adequate reception conditions and hygienic measures must be guaranteed.

The Spanish Commission for Refugee Support (CEAR) sent a letter asking the Spanish President to authorize urgent transfer and relocation of people seeking international protection and migrants in the CETI of the autonomous Spanish enclaves.

The incidence is the first major crossing of the fence since a controversial ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that found that the immediate return to Morocco of two people who crossed to Melilla did not breach the European Convention of Human Rights.

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Photo: (CC) Fronterasur, February 2007 

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin . You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.