Ceuta border fence

Coordinates: 35°53′53″N 5°21′51″W / 35.89795°N 5.36407°W / 35.89795; -5.36407
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The fence

The Ceuta border fence forms part of the Morocco–Spain border at Ceuta,[1] a city on the North African coast. Constructed by Spain, its purpose is to prevent smuggling and to stop migrants from entering Europe. Morocco objected to the construction of the barrier since it does not recognize Spanish sovereignty in Ceuta.

The Ceuta-Morocco border fence, as seen from Ceuta.

Ceuta is an integral part of Spain, and therefore of the European Union; its border and its equivalent in Melilla are the only two land borders between the European Union and an African country.[2]

The fence consists of parallel 6 metre (20-foot) high[3] fences topped with barbed wire, with regular watchposts and a road running between them to accommodate police patrols or ambulance service in case of need. Underground cables connect spotlights, noise and movement sensors, and video cameras to a central control booth; dozens of guard ships and patrol boats check the coast, while 621 Guardia Civil officers and 548 police officers control the shore.[4]


In 1993 a 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) high and 8.4 km (5.2 mi) long fence was built around the exclave. As the first fence was too easy to cross the construction of a new system started in 1995 bringing it up to 3 metres (9.8 ft). In 2005 the height was further increased, from 3 to 6 m (9 ft 10 in to 19 ft 8 in).[5]


2005 attempted border breach[edit]

On 7 October 2005, the border fence was assaulted by hundreds of migrants, attracting international attention. Caught between Spanish rubber bullets and Moroccan gunfire, a number of migrants died (sources put the number of deaths between 13[6] and 18 people[4]) and more than 50 were wounded. Some of the dead were wounded by live ammunition; of those, two died on the Spanish side of the fence,[6] apparently shot from the Moroccan positions.[7] The 2005 events at the Ceuta and Melilla border fences are the subject of a documentary film, Victimes de nos richesses.[8]

Since then, migrants have occasionally died while trying to break through the fence.[3][9]

2016 breach[edit]

The fence was breached by an organised group of 400 illegal entrants in December 2016.[10]

2017 breach[edit]

On 17 February 2017, an estimated 600 migrants, some armed with clubs and shears, broke through the security gates, and 300 of them are reported to have entered Ceuta, where police attempted to locate them.[11]

2018 breaches[edit]

  • In June 2018, 400 migrants, the majority of whom were Moroccans, stormed the fence in Ceuta.[12]
  • In July 2018, 602 migrants forced their way across the border using shears, sticks and edged weapons. The migrants sprayed corrosive substances, excrement and urine on police officers, resulting in 22 Spanish police officers being wounded, four of whom suffered major burns.[13] After this breach, the border was reinforced with more personnel, extra police vehicles and a helicopter equipped with night-vision equipment.[14]
  • In August 2018, of the hundreds who attempted to force their way into Ceuta, more than 100 people succeeded, bringing the overall total to 1,400. The migrants again threw excrement and corrosive substances at the Spanish police, wounding seven, some of whom suffered burns.[15][16] The following day, 116 Africans were deported back across the border per a 1992 bilateral agreement between Spain and Morocco.[17][18][14]

2019 breaches[edit]

In August 2019, migrants stormed the fence using sticks and acid. Dozens were injured, 4 people died on the barbed wire and 11 border agents were wounded.[19]

2021 breaches[edit]

There were further breaches in May 2021, when migrants were filmed swimming or walking around the ends of the fence on the adjoining beaches at low tide.[20]


On 17 November about 1000 migrants tried to enter Ceuta by charging from the East, the South and the West simultaneously. Moroccan police stopped some 900 people before those reached the fence, the rest failed to get over the barrier.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ferrer-Gallardo, Xavier; Albet-Mas, Abel (1 July 2016). "EU-Limboscapes: Ceuta and the proliferation of migrant detention spaces across the European Union". European Urban and Regional Studies. 23 (3): 527–530. Bibcode:2016EURS...23..527F. doi:10.1177/0969776413508766. hdl:10230/58908. ISSN 0969-7764.
  2. ^ Bilefsky, Dan (20 February 2017). "More Migrants Storm Fence to Enter Ceuta, Spanish Enclave in Africa". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Spain/Morocco: Protect Migrants, Asylum Seekers". Human Rights Watch. 24 March 2014. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  4. ^ a b Valsecchi, Riccardo (25 June 2009). "Ceuta, the border-fence of Europe". New York: WorldPress.
  5. ^ Building Fortress Europe? Schengen and the Cases of Ceuta and Melilla
  6. ^ a b EUROPA - Press Releases - Visit to Ceuta and Melilla – Mission Report Technical mission to Morocco on illegal immigration 7 October– 11 October 2005
  7. ^ Migrants shot dead at the border fence, Spain deploys army
  8. ^ Barlet, Olivier. "Victimes de nos richesses". Africultures (in French). Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
  9. ^ "Spain: Accountability urged for 'appalling' migrant deaths in Ceuta". Amnesty International. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  10. ^ "Migrants Break IN". Euronews. 9 December 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  11. ^ "Hundreds of migrants storm fence to reach Spanish enclave of Ceuta". BBC. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  12. ^ "Unos 400 inmigrantes intentan saltar la frontera de Ceuta y tres resultan heridos". El Huffington Post (in European Spanish). 6 June 2018. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  13. ^ "Más de 600 inmigrantes entran en Ceuta tras saltar la valla: 22 guardias civiles heridos, varios por cal viva". ELMUNDO (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  14. ^ a b "El Gobierno usa un acuerdo de 1992 para expulsar a los 116 inmigrantes que saltaron ayer la valla de Ceuta". ELMUNDO (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  15. ^ "DFer kritiseres for opfordring til at skyde migranter: "Nu må det være nok"". b.dk (in Danish). 27 August 2018. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  16. ^ Editorial. "More than 100 migrants storm border of North African Spanish enclave". U.S. Reuters. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  17. ^ "Migranter udvist til Marokko efter at have stormet enklave". b.dk (in Danish). 23 August 2018. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  18. ^ Rodero, Pablo. "Spain returns to Morocco migrants who stormed enclave fence". U.S. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  19. ^ Cañas, Jesús A. (30 August 2019). "Around 150 migrants jump border fence into Ceuta". El País. ISSN 1134-6582. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  20. ^ Ferrer-Gallardo, Xavier; Gabrielli, Lorenzo (11 March 2022). "The Ceuta Border Peripeteia: Tasting the Externalities of EU Border Externalization". Journal of Borderlands Studies. 37 (3): 645–655. doi:10.1080/08865655.2022.2048680. ISSN 0886-5655. S2CID 247418233.
  21. ^ Aublanc, Alexandre (11 March 2023). "Le Maroc repousse des centaines de migrants qui tentaient d'entrer dans l'enclave espagnole de Ceuta". lemonde.fr.

Bibliography in English[edit]

External links[edit]

35°53′53″N 5°21′51″W / 35.89795°N 5.36407°W / 35.89795; -5.36407