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Video shows migrants hiding in broken glass and toxic ash, hoping to reach Europe

One thing appeared flawed to the guard inspecting sealed baggage of poisonous ash within the port of Melilla, one in all Spain’s two small territories in North Africa. So he pulled a knife, lower the bag open and located a immobile leg, confirming his suspicion that an individual was inside.

He lifted and dropped the leg just a few instances, with no response. A number of moments handed. Instantly the leg pulled again, and a younger man emerged from the ashes – frightened and disoriented, however alive.

The disturbing scene from a video launched Monday by Spain’s Civil Guard highlighted the nice lengths and  dangers that migrants and asylum seekers take of their determined makes an attempt to succeed in Europe.


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The survivor was amongst 41 individuals discovered hiding amid cargo in Melilla’s port space on Friday, trying to sneak aboard a ship that may take them throughout the Mediterranean Sea to mainland Spain.

4 of them had been found buried in recycling containers beneath glass bottles, some damaged with sharp edges.

Surrounded by Morocco, the tiny enclaves of Melilla and close by Ceuta have been a goal for a lot of African migrants for years. However the two territories fall outdoors the Schengen space of free mobility throughout a lot of Europe, so a lot of them change into trapped of their effort to succeed in European soil.

The port of Melilla, the place vans and containers start a visit to Spain that may take as much as seven hours, offers many a method to escape. Some attempt to enter the fenced space of the harbor by swimming there or by hiding beneath autos, leaping onto them once they decelerate or cease on the gates of the port.

Others attempt to climb the perimeter fences and partitions, generally falling and getting severely injured.

With the assistance of search canine and microphones to detect heartbeats, police typically discover individuals hiding amid the cargo, from containers to cement mixers. This yr alone, the Civil Guard stated it has recognized 1,781 migrants trespassing in Melilla port’s safety perimeter; final yr, the quantity was 11,700.

Nonetheless, discoveries like these final week are unsettling for probably the most skilled officers.

“We’ll by no means get used to it,” stated Juan Antonio Martín, a spokesman with the Civil Guard in Melilla.

As a result of the border between Spain’s North African territories and Morocco has been closed for the reason that pandemic started in March, it’s tougher for migrants to slide in. In line with Spain’s Inside Ministry, almost 1,500 individuals crossed illegally into Melilla final yr, down from greater than 5,800 in 2019.

However those that tried to go away Melilla final week had been already within the enclave, Martín stated. They had been unable to take the passenger ferries or the flights to succeed in the mainland, both as a result of they did not have journey paperwork or as a result of they entered Spain illegally within the first place.

Their nationality was not launched, however the spokesperson stated most had been of Moroccan origin.

Whereas Morocco’s closure of the land border with Ceuta and Melilla got here on the heels of years of stepping up border safety, which had already led to a giant drop in unlawful crossings, Spain’s Canary Islands within the Atlantic Ocean have emerged as the primary touchdown level for individuals fleeing North and West Africa to Europe.

Final yr, some 23,000 individuals reached the archipelago, most of them plucked from the waters by Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service, and greater than 500 died or disappeared within the try.

And there, too, rescuers generally confronted the unthinkable. In December, Spain’s El País newspaper reported  how a 14-year-old from Nigeria spent two weeks clinging to an oil tanker’s rudder earlier than he was discovered by a patrol boat close to the port of Las Palmas, Gran Canaria island.

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