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Spain handed £8m in EU aid to block north African migrants

SPAIN said today that it will receive €10 million (£8.14m) from the European Union to prevent immigration in the Spanish north African territories of Ceuta and Melilla.

Madrid has been appealing for more EU aid for months to help it block the arrival of sub-Saharan African migrants at the two enclaves, which are on Morocco’s Mediterranean coast and form Europe’s only two land borders with Africa.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom agreed the bloc would “immediately” provide Madrid with the €10 million during talks with Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz.

The money will come from the EU emergency fund and will be used on “some of the 26 projects proposed by Spain to face the situation in Ceuta and Melilla.”

The funds will be used to strengthen border fences, fund voluntary return programmes for migrants who manage to enter the two territories illegally and develop government-run migrant reception centres.

Last week about 500 African migrants scaled a towering triple-layer border fence to cross from Morocco into Melilla.

A Melilla reception centre built to house 480 immigrants now houses more than 2,000.

Aside from trying to storm the border fence round Melilla, would-be immigrants also try to sail or swim ashore to the enclaves.

On February 6 about 15 migrants drowned in Moroccan waters trying to swim to Ceuta from a nearby beach.

Mr Diaz estimated on March 4 that there were 40,000 migrants waiting to cross from Morocco into Ceuta and Melilla.


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