Hundreds of migrants tried to force themselves into a small Spanish enclave that shares a border with Morocco on the Mediterranean coast.
Spanish border forces had been alerted around 5:30 a.m. by their Moroccan counterparts that “a group of 350 sub-Saharan Africans” were trying to scale the fence near the Barrio Chino border post in the Spanish enclave of Melilla, prompting the Guardia Civil Police to deploy a helicopter to divert them.
“No one came over,” the spokesman said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Another group of more than 300 people had tried to enter Melilla on August 20, but no one was able to enter, he said.
Three days earlier, more than 50 people managed to enter the small enclave when about 150 people stormed the fence. And on July 22, more than 230 people managed to sneak into Melilla in one of the largest influxes in recent years.
Spain’s two small enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla, have Europe’s only land border with Africa, making them a magnet for migrants desperate to escape poverty and hunger.
In mid-May, Spain was deterred when more than 10,000 people swam or used small inflatable boats to enter Ceuta when Moroccan border forces looked the other way.
The influx came during a diplomatic crisis between Spain and Morocco, where Madrid upset Rabat by having a separatist leader from Western Sahara treated in a Spanish hospital.
The border violation was widely regarded as a punitive measure by Morocco. Although most of the migrants returned immediately, by the end of July there were about 2,500 left in Ceuta, officials said, including about 800 unaccompanied minors.