Hundreds of African immigrants breached a vast border fence to reach Spain this morning.
Some of the group, which appeared to consist solely of men, beat their chests and shouted ‘Viva España’, ‘We Love You España’ and ‘Boza, boza’ (‘Victory, victory’) as they arrived in Ceuta, a small Spanish enclave which borders Morocco in north Africa.
Although technically in Morocco, Ceuta has been a Spanish possession since 1668. It is 18 miles by sea from the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, itself on the southern end of the Iberian peninsula.
Local television station Faro TV Ceuta broadcast extraordinary footage of the men celebrating after reaching Europe (pictured). Many were barefoot and some had deep cuts to their hands, thought to be injuries sustained when scaling the enormous wire fence which separates Ceuta and Morocco.
Local authorities said they believed about 900 immigrants had attempted to climb the fence just before dawn, and more than 400 had managed to cross it.
This is the latest in a wave of similar mass scale attempts to break into Europe and is believed to have taken place at four different points, suggesting it was a well-organised enterprise which would have seriously complicated the work of Moroccan and Spanish police trying to stop them.
Those who made it across will now be assessed and may be eligible to stay in a refugee hostel known as a CETI where they will be given three meals a day, taught Spanish, and will undergo psychological support before being moved to the European mainland.
A spokesman for a local emergency co-ordination center said today: ‘Red Cross Ceuta is assisting some 400 people in the CETI, although that’s not a definitive figure. We have not yet got information about how many are injured and possible transfers to hospital. Civil Guard indicate up to 500 people may have managed to make it into Ceuta.’