This border fence without barbed wire between Melilla and Morocco might soon no longer be a rarity
This border fence without barbed wire between Melilla and Morocco might soon no longer be a rarity

Spain's new interior minister has made it a priority to remove the barbed wire on fences between Morocco and two Spanish territories. But for incoming migrants, the fences are just the first of many obstacles between them and a new life.

New Spanish interior minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said he plans to do everything he can to get rid of the barbed wire on border fence between Morocco and the Ceuta and Melilla Spanish territories. 

"I will do everything possible so that the barbed wire at the gates of Ceuta and Melilla are removed," said Grande-Marlaska during an interview with Radio Cope. "We are talking about solidarity, of respecting people's dignity, while controlling the migratory flow, one does not impede the other." 

From Africa to Europe by land

Ceuta and Melilla are two autonomous Spanish territories located in the northern part of Morocco. Both of these territories are officially a part of Spain and have ferry access to mainland Spain. These territories are currently cut off from Morocco by six meter (20 feet) tall fences often topped with barbed wire or razor blades.

The tops of the fences have injured many migrants attempting to enter Ceuta or Melilla. In Ceuta, 25 migrants were treated for cuts caused by the fences this year, which includes 10 migrants who needed to be transferred to hospital. Watchtowers are also situated along the Spanish-Moroccan borders, the only land borders between a European Union (EU) member state and Africa.

Difficult conditions for migrants in Spain

Migrants who manage to make it to Spain, either by jumping over the Ceuta or Melilla border fence or by taking a boat across the Mediterranean Sea, have only just begun a lengthy ordeal. 

After being taken to a police station to be identified, most migrants are taken to immigration detention centers where they wait up two months for their fates to be determined. Human rights organizations have been upset by the poor conditions in the detention centers and how overrun they are.

"A lot of people are released into the streets after 72 hours (at a police station), because currently there are no more places in the centers," Carlos Arce, migration coordinator at the Human Rights Association of andalusia (APDHA), told press agency AFP. According to Arce, those who are left out of these detention centers have to fend for themselves and do not receive assistance or follow ups from the Spanish government.

Rising number of new migrants in Spain

Spain is the third most popular country for migrants attempting to enter Europe, and the rate of migrants traveling to Spain is growing. Since the start of 2018, more than 9,300 migrants have reached Spanish shores. That is twice the number of people compared to the same period in 2017. 

The new Spanish government's relatively migrant-friendly policies stand in stark contrast to those of the new populist and right-wing Italian government, which might lead to even higher migrant arrival numbers in Spain in the future. 

The Aquarious controversy

Recently, Spain gave the migrant rescue ship Aquarius permission to dock at its shores after the Italian and Maltese governments had refused to take in the boat. 

In Spain, the conservative Popular Party denounced the move to allow the Aquarius to dock in Spain. The party said it would act as a "siren call" for more migrants to try to enter the country. The conservatives led the country for six years until they were ousted by a no confidence vote on June 1. 

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