Around 2,000 migrants tried to get from Morocco to the Spanish exclave of Melilla on Friday. As the local authorities announced, the migrants stormed towards the border fence. The Spanish government’s representation in Melilla said 130 people from sub-Saharan Africa had penetrated into the exclave.

The Moroccan law enforcement officers therefore worked in a coordinated manner with the Spanish forces to push back the refugees. However, a “large group” of people from sub-Saharan Africa who had been “organized and violent” managed to gain entry into Melilla.

Several hundred migrants had already managed to get to Melilla over the meter-high border fence in March. Ceuta and Melilla, which form the only EU land borders in Africa, are regular destinations for people hoping for a better life in Europe.

The border fences are equipped with barbed wire, video cameras and guard platforms. Images in Spanish media on Friday showed images of migrants lying exhausted on the sidewalk, some with bleeding hands and torn clothing.

The Spanish government made a diplomatic change of course in March after a long dispute over Morocco’s Western Sahara policy. Madrid recognized the Moroccan autonomy plan for the disputed area, which envisages, among other things, offering Western Sahara autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty.

Since then, ferry connections between Spain and Morocco have been resumed and police cooperation programs have been launched in the Spanish exclaves, among other places.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro S├ínchez recently warned that Madrid will not “tolerate the tragedy of illegal immigration as a bargaining chip”. Illegal immigration should be listed at the NATO summit at the end of June as a security threat on the alliance’s southern flank.

In recent years, thousands of migrants have attempted to cross the 12 km Melilla-Morocco border or the 8 km Ceuta-Morocco border by climbing fences, swimming or hiding in cars. The migrants sometimes use hooks and sticks to climb the border fence.