Europe’s most fortified border is in Africa

Europe’s most fortified border is in Africa

If you zoom in to Morocco, you’ll see a
tiny wedge of land that stands out from its surroundings. This little bit of land
is surrounded by one of the most fortified borders on the planet. Right outside the border you’ll find makeshift forest camps, where people spend their
days and nights evading the police and preparing to rush the border, usually in
large groups, with hopes of jumping over and stepping foot on this land. This peculiar scene plays out because
this piece of land, while in the continent of Africa, is actually a piece
of Europe. This small piece of land is called Melilla.
It’s one of two Spanish enclaves in Morocco, marking the only borders that
Europe shares with the continent of Africa. Spain conquered Melilla in the late
1400s as part of its rapid global expansion. This region of northern Africa
changed hands many times over the following decades, but Spain kept hold of
Melilla. Even in 1956, when the colonial period was winding down and great powers
were ceding their colonies, Morocco had just declared independence, but even then
Spain held onto its enclave. Today, around 86,000 people live in Melilla
and when you’re there you might as well be in mainland Spain. The city is
designed with the distinctive Spanish architectural style and residents speak
Spanish. They pay in Euros. You’re only reminded that you’re not in mainland
Europe when you walk to the peripheries of this city, to find one of the most
fortified border walls on the planet. A seven mile barrier with layers of
protection The first layer is a 20-foot metal fence,
followed by a second fence with a flexible top, which makes it harder to
climb. Below this second fence you have barbed wire netting, strong and dense
webs, then comes another taller fence with a flexible top section and more
barbed wire. Then you’re on the Moroccan side where, you have a 6.5
foot ditch and then a double fence with you guessed it, more barbed wire. There
are lookout posts and every inch of the border is monitored by video
surveillance. To understand why this barrier exists, you have to cross over
into the Moroccan town of Nador and then into the forest in the hills
surrounding the enclave. These migrants are mostly from
sub-Saharan Africa and they all have different motives for leaving their
homelands. They gather in these camps and plan for the day when they’ll try to
cross into Melilla. In response to this intense security, the migrants have developed a technique that relies on
overpowering the border guards with strength of numbers. The groups range in
size, but are nearly always in the hundreds. Most get caught right away on
the Moroccan side where they face border agents who are not shy about using force.
Those who make it past the first few layers, onto the Spanish section of the
barrier are also thrown back immediately or detained, but because of their large
numbers a few will inevitably slip past the guards. As soon as they put their
feet on the ground in Melilla, they are technically in Europe and are guaranteed
certain protections under European Union law. But they still have to run a hundred
meters to an immigration center, where they can be taken in and given
protection from immediate deportation. Arrivals to these enclaves came to a
head in 2014, when Spain decided it was finally time to double down on its
effort to fortify this border. This was mainly in response to the influx of
migrants attempting to get into Europe, fleeing from conflicts in Africa and the
Middle East. “Biggest wave refugees in modern history” “hundreds of thousands of refugees” “fleeing brutal violence in the Middle
East” “cross over European borders by the
hundreds of thousands” “in overcrowded boats, many drowning along the way” Spain’s response to this migration crisis was to focus on the borders of
its enclaves in Africa, redoubling the efforts to keep migrants out of this
little slice of Europe. The year after the 2014 migration crisis, attempts to
jump the fence dropped by 67%. Spain didn’t make these numbers drop on their
own. One of the things you’ll notice when you look at this wall, is that Moroccan
military and police are also guarding this border. The year of the migration
crisis, Morocco built these two extra layers of barbed wire fencing. “But authorities say dense new anticlimb mesh stopped the latest to make the attempt
in their tracks” So why would Morocco take the responsibility of building a
barrier and standing guard at Spain’s border? Turns out they have real
incentives to do so. Morocco has what’s called advanced status partnership with
Europe, which gives them economic and political advantages in trade and
political affairs. The European Union accounts for more than half of Morocco’s
international trade and the EU also provides Morocco with billions of Euros
in aid for security and development, so the Moroccans in an effort to stay on
good terms with their northern neighbor, take on the job of protecting Spain’s
border. And they take their job very seriously. Migrants had always had their forest camps right here,
right outside the city on this hill. This was their camp for years and this
is the place where they used to regroup and prepare a jump, until just a few
months ago when the Moroccan military set up an outpost up here. Now the migrants can’t return and they have gone to find another refuge, which is on a
hill 12 kilometers from here. Moroccan authorities have started routinely raiding the camps. But they don’t deport them from
Morocco, they have other less resource-intensive ways of keeping these
migrants from coordinating a large enough group for a jump. The police were
here for three hours this morning, they basically came in and stole a bunch of
stuff, they kind of disrupted these tents and messed with these people’s houses.
They harassed the women in violent ways. They basically came here just to flex
their muscles and say you know we’re in charge, make sure you remember that. About once a month the Moroccan authorities round up the migrants and send them to
other parts of Morocco that are far away from Melillah, preventing them from
gathering in a sufficient group to blitz the fence. The Moroccan authorities are not concerned with keeping these migrants out of Morocco, they’re trying
to keep them from getting to Europe. They do in many respects, a lot of Spain’s and
Europe’s dirty work, with respect to blocking people whose interest is to
cross. Another thing you’ll notice is that everyone in these camps is from
sub-Saharan Africa, basically countries below this line. All migrants face extreme difficulties in their journey to Europe, but migrants from places like
Syria have a much easier time just walking up to the border and asking for
asylum the proper way. It’s not an exaggeration to say that hardly any
sub-Saharan African is able to do that. They do have to resort to very
dangerous methods, like scaling the fences or hiding in vehicles or taking
to the sea. Spain did build a new office to handle the influx of migrants,
but not migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. You might say well that’s reasonable right? Everybody knows there’s a war in Syria, so of
course it makes sense to presume that Syrians are fleeing the war and
they’re refugees, they need protection. But the flip side of that, the
presumption that people from countries where there isn’t like a live war, that
you are reading about in the newspapers, the presumption that people from those
countries are not in need of international protection, is a very
dangerous presumption. The world is experiencing a record number of refugees
and displaced people. While some countries have opened their doors to let
these people in, many are responding by building walls, but this won’t stop them
from coming. No matter how dangerous the journey, the people in these camps will
keep trying. That’s the six episode of Borders, I hope
you’ve enjoyed this series. Today we also launched the on-site experience for all
six of the Borders stories, with graphs and charts and visualizations to kind of
go a little bit further into some of these stories. I’m gonna leave a link
here where you can go see that and thank you for being a part of this journey.

100 Replies to “Europe’s most fortified border is in Africa

  1. That's it. Vox Borders is done, and I can't believe it. Thank you all so so much for being a part of this journey. I know for a fact your participation and feedback made it better.

    If you're interested in the behind-the-scenes of Vox Borders, don't forget to check it out on our website:

    – Johnny

  2. Guys (EU) you cannot take Africa's resources without taking some locals with you !
    Or, just give back Ceuta and Melilla to Morroco and your problem is solved, no more wall to climb

  3. Why do Americans think it is bad to have a protected border? I am from Italy and I hear Americans do not like borders

  4. This is an invasion!
    There should be shoot orders if they want to try there luck, but no the government is weak and lets them come into europe slowly destroying it.

  5. it's so easy for Europeans to judge this people and easy to forget that their governments is the cause of what's happening in africa from stealing natural resources to force them to pay taxes every year

  6. No one ! No one can help the uncivilized , lawless , lazy cacroaches because they dont want to think How to help themselves . This hoards of useless humanoids is being used by ORGANAIZED POWERS. TO DESTROY EUROPE AND ITS NATIONS without decalaration of WAR !!!!! CONQUEST without fight , clever planning by globalists .

  7. Interesting to see how so few people address the real issue which is to question what does it take to prevent those people from wanting to leave their homeland.

  8. Dont feal bad for them, they're committing a crime and ik they have bad lives but I don't care when it's illegal action, just like in america, it's hard to care about criminals…

  9. Western hypocrisy astonishes me, blaming Morocco which is also a third world country for Spain’s misdeeds. If you really feel bad for them why don’t you grant them green cards and welcome them in America. Organizations such as Human’s right watch are always condemning countries such as Morocco but not the real countries who are causing the suffering. Where is the outrage for the US and their treatment of Central Americans.

  10. 4:37 instead of improving the border safety, just remove the asylum center which is the only guarantee that refugees have.

  11. then they claim they have stopped colonizing africa, when 14 african countries are still paying colonial tax to france, when the president of south africa is killing people for protesting against a mine that is owned by britian, i cannot even justify this nonsense of having italian borders in africa. africa needs to wake up we are being eaten in the dinner table

  12. There is always a legal way to get in. It's not because of racism, not because they are violent. They just don't want to wait.

  13. There is a demographic failure (too much demand) in both Africa and Latin America! Johnny only uses the emigrant binoculars and his tell of history is very shallow & distorted! Wonder how he will handle the Zimbabwe/South Africa border?

  14. Reminded me just how lucky some of us to be living in a world without conflicts, fleeing from the motherland in a pursuit for a better life, living everything behind bcs your own country couldnt provide the best for you or vice versa.

  15. For people wondering why these immigrants are going to this point of risking their lives and why they are not staying on their countries and trying to rebuild them , I will tell you that decades of European occupation left nothing to use for the rebuild process so best option if you can't get back what was stolen in the past is to simply follow it

  16. Thx morocco for keeping europe safe. GJ.
    Maybe the use of lethal force should be increased though. The ones who touch the fence should be shot immediately.

  17. Muslims and christians started to argue..guess who started it hahaah animals …everywhere they exist they start civil wars

  18. I have a question for all the bleeding heart liberals. So how many refugees and sub sahara Africans do you let into Europe? Is there some arbitrary number? Do you just open the gates to everyone until Europe is a complete basket case and a f..kup like most of Africa and the middle east? What is the magic number? When do you stop?

  19. They don't want black african men from Africa blending in that's all it is
    Its nothing personal I think any lot owner or man that cherishes and values what he loves and cares for can understand

  20. Terrible! It's like from the Z war movie! All Africa, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iraq .. want to move to Europe!! The EU should abolish the entry visa and provide free traveling with all benefits to be inclusive in the package!! Yes, go to Europe! Merkel, Macron and of course Trudeau in Canada … They all want you!! Please go to Europe and leave Africa for the wildlife!! Go to Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the UK, Denmark, Norway, Greece … They all love you and want you!! They hate their own kind, the white European Christians. They love refugees and migrants from your countries and especially if they're moslems. They want to learn from you Islam so that slowly slowly they can adopt Islam as their main religion instead of Christianity! That's why there are more mosques in London, Paris, Marseille, Malmo than in Kandahar, Kabul, Islam Abad, Damascus or Baghdad. Mashallah!!!

  21. Building a wall doesn't mean that you hate the people outside. You just want to protect the people inside. It's like building a wall in your own house, as simple as that.
    Every country has enough problems of their own that they have to deal with. If these people keep on coming to Europe just to get away from the difficult life in their own country, what are they expecting from Europe?

  22. Vox, I absolutely admire your journalism. I appreciate how your video messages sound neutral but give so much perspective on sides that is, usually, suffering. And I like that you cover bit of history as well. And I can say this strongly coz I have seen your video on kashmir border and I am from India.
    Thanks for doing your job so well!

  23. Nice video, sad to see this, but the first world cannot handle this influx. These individuals and even families are swamping our assistance and health care programs.

  24. Just saying, but that forest outside of Melilla looks really, really nice. I bet it's a great place to visit, in terms of going for a walk and stuff.

  25. The only way africa is going to get better is if they fix themselfs international aid wont help anything if the citizens dont try to make it better and only live off the aid

  26. What a wall or fence?? Where is the out cry saying this is racist?? Like the USA boarder with mexico.

    The USA needs a WALL like this!!

  27. I love the immense hypocrisy that Spain emits. Constantly going on about Gibraltar which was very fairly and legally handed over to the UK in a contractual deal while Spain has all of these "outposts" which are, lets be honest, not legitimate. They were taken by force hundreds of years ago and are still being controlled and protected with an iron grip. Gotta love those Spaniards.

  28. The African Union must provide the military might needed to defeat the islamists that cause turmoil in various African countries
    forcing the people to flee to other lands and Europe. PEACE CAN BE WON AND ENFORCED BY THE AFRICANS THEMSELVES!

  29. Go back fight for your Country my black brothers. I'm african American and I believe you can gather together and create new Government. For reals

  30. As a jewish person i strongly condemn this behaviour from the spanish government. Its muslim land, give it back to muslims!!!!

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