Spain's Southern Fortress: The African Enclave of Melilla

14 more in collection Spain's Southern Fortress: The African Enclave of Melilla

Format mpeg4, Bitrate 31.226 mbps


Surrounded by a triple barrier 12 km long, controlled by dozens of cameras and continuous patrols, a small Spanish enclave in Moroccan territory called Melilla is – according to the Spanish government – a fortress under siege. It is a fortress which in recent years has faced increasing migratory pressure that has reached “unprecedented levels” according to Abdelmalik El Barkani, Madrid’s representative in Melilla.

Hiding in the forests of Oujda, Nador, and Selouane, nearly eighty-thousand migrants, mainly from sub-Saharan countries, are waiting for the right moment to slip across the frontier. Some go by boat or in a secret compartment of a car if they can afford it, but the majority try to jump the barriers surrounding Melilla. Spain and Europe stand silently by while every week hundreds of migrants risk their lives and allegedly face violent reprisals of the Moroccan police who they say beat, torture, rob and kill them. Meanwhile, Morocco is building a new barrier, a three meter deep ditch filled with barbed wire. Part of the 50 million euro project is reportedly funded by money Spain acquired from the EU, an accusation made by Spanish activists and media and never denied by Rajoy’s government.

A few kilometres from these barriers, on the slopes of mount Gurugu, in the forests overlooking Melilla, nearly four thousand migrants are waiting for the right time to jump across into the Spanish enclave and enter the CETI (Centro de Estancia Temporal de Inmigrantes), a collapsing first aid structure with two thousand people already inside. Gurugu seems a circle of Hell, where migrants live in inhuman conditions. In tents made of plastic bags, without water and food, heated only by firewood collected in the bush. Sought out by the Moroccan military, they have to hide like animals in the forest, digging in the garbage to find something to eat, walking miles on slippery rocks to drink. Systematically, every two days or so, at six in the morning, the soldiers break into Gurugu, destroying tents, burning, stealing what little the migrants were able to put aside, beating them and forcing people to jump down from the crags, arresting and bringing the detainees to Rabat.


  1. Mount Gurugu
  2. Migrants on Mount Gurugu
  3. Amadou speaks on mount Gurugu
  4. Idriss speaks on Mount Gurugu
  5. Youssouf speaks on mount Gurugu
  6. Idriss speaks on mount Gurugu
  7. Guy Robert speaks in Melilla near CETI
  8. Melilla’s wall
  9. Jose Palazon speaks in Melilla
  10. Tereza Vazquez speaks in Melilla
  11. Melilla’s wall
  12. Guy Robert speaks in Melilla
  13. Father Esteban Velazquez speaks in Nador, Morocco
  14. Melilla’s wall


  1. soundbite (English)
    Amadou, Migrant of mount Gurugu: We are here to try to enter in Melilla because we really don't have nothing to do in our country. We don't have jobs there, we don't have nothing there. So we have to come to Europe to look for something and then go back to our country.
  2. soundbite (French)
    Idriss, Migrant of mount Gurugu: Moroccan authorities violate human rights here on Mount Gurugu. We are here without any defense, like animals in the forest. They come to search for us at four AM, they break everything. People gets injured, others die. Someone had his feet broken. And at the hospital, no one cares for us.
  3. soundbite (French)
    Youssouf, Migrant of mount Gurugu: They come and push the people down from the slope of the mountain.
  4. soundbite (French)
    Idriss, Migrant of mount Gurugu: Really, I think that we deserve at least some respect. Because we are human behings. We are human beings and we deserve some tenderness. We didn't come from the sky
  5. soundbite (French)
    Guy Robert , Migrant in Melilla: I've passed one year and a half in the forest of Gurugu, and during this period I've tried do enter in the Spanish territory four times; but I was caught and sent back.
  6. soundbite (Spanish)
    José Palazon, Activist in Melilla: When a migrant tries to enter in Melilla and arrives in Spanish territory, Spanish security forces just catch him and send him back through a service door without giving him the chance to identify himself, to speak, without the chance to meet a lawyer or a translator. Spanish security forces limit their actions to catching the migrants and sending them back to Morocco through a service door. So there are Spanish officials that have the keys of an international border, and they have the power to choose who can enter and who has to leave. And everybody has to leave.
  7. soundbite (English)
    Teresa Vazquez del Rey , Lawyer in Melilla: As soon as you cross the first wall you are in Spanish territory, and once you are there you have the right to have legal assistance, health care and a translator. And if you are a potential refugee you have the right to seek asylum. And if you are not a refugee but you come from a country where you can't return because your life could be in danger or your human rights are not protected, the government doesn't have the right to send you back to that country. That could be the case of Morocco.
  8. soundbite (French )
    Guy Robert, Migrant in Melilla: When you pass the wall and you find your self in Spanish territory, but they catch you and send you back to Morocco, you start crying, not because they've sent you back, but because of what will happen to you once in the hands of the Moroccan army. They'll beat you to death.
  9. soundbite (Spanish)
    Father Esteban Velazquez, Jesuit Priest: Now that Spain is asking to the European Union to commit more to its frontier, well, that commitment must be also in terms of human rights not only in terms of security. Europe must show its humanitarian side, not only the security bunker one.