Ceuta border fence

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The fence

The Ceuta border fence forms part of the Morocco–Spain border[1] at Ceuta, a city on the North African coast. Constructed by Spain, its purpose is to stop illegal immigration and smuggling. 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)[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 an 8.4 km (5.2 mi) fence was built around the exclave. As the first fence was too easy to cross the construction of a new system started in 1995. In 2005 an increase of height was made, 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, creating international attention. Caught between the Spanish rubber bullets and Moroccan gunfire, a number of migrants died (sources put the number of deaths between thirteen[6] and eighteen people[4]) and more than fifty were injured. 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 would-be undocumented migrants, some of whom were armed with clubs and shears, broke through the security gates; 300 of them are reported to have entered Ceuta where police are attempting to locate them.[11]

2018 breach[edit]

In June 2018, 400 migrants, the majority of whom were Moroccans, stormed the fence in Ceuta.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ferrer-Gallardo, Xavier; Albet-Mas, Abel (2016-07-01). "EU-Limboscapes: Ceuta and the proliferation of migrant detention spaces across the European Union". European Urban and Regional Studies. 23 (3): 527–530. doi:10.1177/0969776413508766. ISSN 0969-7764. 
  2. ^ Bilefsky, Dan (2017-02-20). "More Migrants Storm Fence to Enter Ceuta, Spanish Enclave in Africa". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-12. 
  3. ^ a b "Spain/Morocco: Protect Migrants, Asylum Seekers". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 8 November 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Valsecchi, Riccardo (2009-06-25). "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). 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 Spanish). 2018-06-06. Retrieved 2018-06-09. 

Bibliography in English[edit]

External links[edit]

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