A focal point for immigration from sub-Saharan Africa

The Spanish government’s decision to reintroduce barbed wire to the border fence that divides the enclave of Melilla from Morocco in north Africa has been condemned by human rights activists as inhumane.

The barbed wire, erected this week, was introduced in 2005 but had mostly been removed from the top of the fence after causing serious injuries to migrants trying to cross the border.

The fence has become a focal point for immigration from sub-Saharan Africa. In September this year hundreds of men descended from the mountains on the Moroccan side to storm the fence, using their great weight of numbers to avoid the Spanish police patrolling the border. Many were arrested, but scores made it over into Melilla.

In the past decade some have died attempting to cross.

Juan Lopez de Uralde of the Green group Equo condemned the decision to bring back the wire. “It’s just criminal, because it won’t stop people trying to cross the fence. The only thing it will achieve is to cause horrific injuries. On a recent visit to the temporary migrant centre in Melilla I spoke to people who said that when these blades were used before they had to treat people with serious injuries. It is inhumane to do this.”

By the time migrants have reached the border between , many will have travelled for years across north and sub-Saharan Africa’s towns and deserts and are unlikely to be deterred in their efforts to reach Europe, even by the use of razor blades at the fence.

— © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2013

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