Ceuta and Melilla, a pair of tiny, autonomous Spanish cities that border Morocco, are the only physical land borders the European Union has with Africa.
In the 1990s Spanish authorities built two six-meter fences topped with barbed wire to defend the borders from thousands of desperate migrants each year.
According to the United Nations-affiliated International Organization for Migration, 3,125 people have tried to enter the EU via Ceuta and Melilla from January 1 to June 25, 2018.
In recent months attempts to cross into the Spanish enclaves have become violent:
In July, over 700 undocumented migrants used homemade blowtorches, quicklime and sharp objects against border police. Over 600 successfully made it onto Spanish territory.
In August, hundreds of migrants rushed the border, using wire cutters to open the fence and throwing battery acid and feces in clashes with officers.
The Spanish government deported over 100 people who had jumped the fence. These “express” deportations were based on a rarely used and barely known 27-year-old agreement between Spain and Morocco.
In October 2017, Spain was ordered to pay two migrants who were deported after crossing the fence €5,000 for violating the European Human Rights Convention.
The Spanish government insists there “was no expulsion, but rather prevention of entry” and has filed an appeal.
Sources: Deutsche Welle, El Pais