The new fence that separates Melilla and Morocco is already visible from different points of the city. A 10-meter-high structure crowned with metal rollers already replaces in several sections – the most vulnerable – the old wire protected with concertinas. At first glance, this panel, which involves raising the height of the fence by 30% on about a third of the perimeter, appears impossible to scale and represents a considerable drop for anyone who manages to reach its top. A somewhat lower structure is being installed on the rest of the fence, which measures a total of 12 kilometers, but ends with a row of curved bars, baptized as “inverted comb”, which makes it difficult to pass to the other side. The two new types of fences are also being finalized along the eight kilometers of the Ceuta border. The Interior Ministry’s plan is to complete the works by the end of the year.
The withdrawal of the concertinas, with which migrants tear their skin when trying to jump over them, was one of the first promises of the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, who defended a safer but less harmful system to stop the entry of migrants in both autonomous cities. A tangle of blades, however, protects the fence on the Moroccan side – where security has been reinforced in recent months – and you can still see mid-height concertinas on the Melilla side.
The works to replace the concertinas, installed in 2005 by the Government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, began at the end of last year and were budgeted at 18 million euros (8.3 million for Ceuta and 9.5 for Melilla). The works are part of a comprehensive reform plan to reinforce and renew the borders of both autonomous cities for which the minister has allocated a total of 32.7 million euros and which includes a new closed circuit television with thermal cameras and the installation of facial recognition systems at the border.
The removal of the concertinas was a historical demand of the organizations for the defense of the rights of migrants, who have viewed with suspicion how several sections of the fence rose from six to 10 meters high, while Morocco, for its part, installed their own blades. “We do not share the model of building walls and fences. Militarizing can never be the solution. Migrants will stop tearing and mutilating themselves when jumping, but they are in danger of falling to the ground from a height of 10 meters and the Moroccan gendarmerie will be waiting for them on the ground ”, said the United Left MEP, Sira Rego, during her visit to the border of the autonomous city with the also IU MEP, Manuel Pineda. “The resources allocated to continue expanding the fences and walls should be used to promote a policy of reception and accompaniment of migrants and reinforce the social status and employment policies of reception spaces,” he added.