clearn.png
Tuesday March 2nd, 2021 12:25AM

Europe-bound migrants found amid broken glass, toxic ash

By The Associated Press

MADRID (AP) — Something seemed wrong to the guard inspecting sealed bags of toxic ash in the port of Melilla, one of Spain’s two small territories in North Africa. So he pulled a knife, cut the bag open and found a motionless leg, confirming his suspicion that a person was inside.

He lifted and dropped the leg a few times, with no reaction. A few moments passed. Suddenly the leg pulled back, and a young man emerged from the ashes — frightened and disoriented, but alive.

The disturbing scene from a video released Monday by Spain’s Civil Guard highlighted the great lengths and risks that migrants and asylum seekers take in their desperate attempts to reach Europe.

The survivor was among 41 people found hiding amid cargo in Melilla’s port area on Friday, attempting to sneak aboard a ship that would take them across the Mediterranean Sea to mainland Spain.

Four of them were discovered buried in recycling containers beneath glass bottles, some broken with sharp edges.

Surrounded by Morocco, the tiny enclaves of Melilla and nearby Ceuta have been a target for many African migrants for years. But the two territories fall outside the Schengen area of free mobility across much of Europe, so many of them become trapped in their effort to reach European soil.

The port of Melilla, where trucks and containers begin a trip to Spain that can take up to seven hours, gives many a way to escape. Some try to enter the fenced area of the harbor by swimming there or by hiding underneath vehicles, jumping onto them when they slow down or stop at the gates of the port.

Others try to climb the perimeter fences and walls, sometimes falling and getting seriously injured.

With the help of search dogs and microphones to detect heartbeats, police often find people hiding amid the cargo, from containers to cement mixers. This year alone, the Civil Guard said it has identified 1,781 migrants trespassing in Melilla port’s security perimeter; last year, the number was 11,700.

Still, discoveries like those last week are unsettling for the most experienced officers.

“We’ll never get used to it,” said Juan Antonio Martín, a spokesman with the Civil Guard in Melilla.

Because the border between Spain’s North African territories and Morocco has been closed since the pandemic began in March, it is more difficult for migrants to slip in. According to Spain’s Interior Ministry, nearly 1,500 people crossed illegally into Melilla last year, down from more than 5,800 in 2019.

But those who tried to leave Melilla last week were already in the enclave, Martín said. They were unable to take the passenger ferries or the flights to reach the mainland, either because they didn’t have travel documents or because they entered Spain illegally in the first place.

Their nationality was not released, but the spokesperson said most were of Moroccan origin.

While Morocco’s closure of the land border with Ceuta and Melilla came on the heels of years of stepping up border security, which had already led to a big drop in illegal crossings, Spain’s Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean have emerged as the main landing point for people fleeing North and West Africa to Europe.

Last year, some 23,000 people reached the archipelago, most of them plucked from the waters by Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service, and more than 500 died or disappeared in the attempt.

And there, too, rescuers sometimes faced 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 before he was found by a patrol boat near the port of Las Palmas, Gran Canaria island.

—-

Brito reported from Barcelona, Spain.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Health, AP World News, AP Business
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Osaka back to No. 2; Medvedev No. 3; Karatsev jumps 72 spots
Naomi Osaka’s Australian Open championship has allowed her to move up to No. 2 in the WTA rankings
2:12PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Grammy-winning duo Daft Punk break up after 28 years
Grammy-winning French duo Daft Punk have announced they're breaking up after 28 years
1:47PM ( 42 minutes ago )
Italian ambassador among 3 killed in attack on Congo convoy
The Italian ambassador to Congo, an Italian Carabinieri police officer and their Congolese driver have been killed during an attack on a U.N. convoy in an area that is home to many rebel groups
1:46PM ( 44 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Thousands of Algerian activists mark second year of protest
Thousands of protesters have marked the second anniversary of Algeria’s pro-democracy movement
1:13PM ( 1 hour ago )
UN to rich nations: Don't undermine COVAX vaccine program
The head of the World Health Organization is pleading with rich countries to check before ordering additional COVID-19 vaccine shots for themselves whether that undermines efforts to get vaccines to poorer nations
12:55PM ( 1 hour ago )
UK data: COVID-19 vaccines sharply cut hospitalizations
Two U.K. studies released Monday showed that COVID-19 vaccination programs are contributing to a sharp drop in hospitalizations, boosting hopes that the shots will work as well in the real world as they have in carefully controlled studies
12:12PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Health
Shops, haircuts return in April as UK lifts lockdown slowly
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a gradual easing of one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns on, saying children will return to class and people will be able to meet a friend for coffee in a park in two weeks’ time
1:17PM ( 1 hour ago )
Norway museum: Munch wrote 'madman' sentence on 'The Scream'
A Norwegian museum says a small, barely visible sentence written on Edvard Munch’s 1893 masterpiece “The Scream” was penned by the Norwegian painter himself
12:58PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Sports, events in New Jersey to soon allow fans
Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday fans will be allowed to attend sports and entertainment events at New Jersey’s largest facilities in limited numbers starting next week
12:48PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP World News
Stocks fall as investors mull inflation concerns, recovery
Stocks fell in afternoon trading on Monday, adding to the declines that started last week as investors continue to be concerned about rising interest rates and the potential for inflation down the road
1:20PM ( 1 hour ago )
New this week: Billie Eilish, Billie Holiday and Superman
This week’s new entertainment releases include two Billies — a documentary on Billie Eilish debuting on Apple TV+ and in theaters, and Lee Daniels’ film “The United States vs
1:07PM ( 1 hour ago )
Dominion Voting Systems sues 'MyPillow Guy' for $1.3 billion
Dominion Voting Systems has filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against the founder of Minnesota-based MyPillow
12:48PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Osaka back to No. 2; Medvedev No. 3; Karatsev jumps 72 spots
Naomi Osaka’s Australian Open championship has allowed her to move up to No. 2 in the WTA rankings
2:12PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Grammy-winning duo Daft Punk break up after 28 years
Grammy-winning French duo Daft Punk have announced they're breaking up after 28 years
1:47PM ( 42 minutes ago )
Italian ambassador among 3 killed in attack on Congo convoy
The Italian ambassador to Congo, an Italian Carabinieri police officer and their Congolese driver have been killed during an attack on a U.N. convoy in an area that is home to many rebel groups
1:46PM ( 44 minutes ago )
AG nominee Garland vows Capitol riot will be top priority
Merrick Garland, President Joe Biden’s attorney general nominee is vowing to prioritize combating extremist violence and said his first focus would be on the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol as he sought to assure lawmakers that the Justice Department would remain politically independent on his watch
1:43PM ( 47 minutes ago )
Repeal of Virginia's death penalty headed to governor's desk
State lawmakers have given final approval to legislation ending capital punishment in Virginia
1:34PM ( 55 minutes ago )