Melilla and the Monster the EU Made

The Dirty Work of Brutalizing Migrants

Guard tower and razor-wire fence, Melilla, Spain. Photo: No Borders. CC BY 2.0.

Like many border cities, Melilla is a contentious place. When Morocco achieved independence in 1956, after more than 40 years as a French protectorate with Spain controlling the northern third of the country as well as Western Sahara, Spain retained Melilla (12 km2, population about 83,000) and Ceuta (20 km2, population about 84,000), its sister city 250 miles away, as its North African enclaves. Unsurprisingly, the two cities have long been a sore point between the two countries, in a sparring game where human lives are throwaway counters. More recently, they’ve hunkered down even more in the identity of threatened territory which must be defended. And defence is good business. A report by the porCausa Foundation draws attention to this usually unmentioned aspect: “the sophisticated immigration control policies of the European states have generated an ecosystem of companies, organisations and individuals that receives multimillion dollar amounts to manage control, reception and return of immigrants.” Not only do these enterprises shape the composition, culture, and even architecture of Melilla but they also construct the official narrative on migration as a threat to public security. The more the migration threat is trumpeted, and the more investment in security.

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