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Dozens died attempting to cross this fence into Europe in June. This man survived : International


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To go to a well-liked transit level into Spain, you need to go to Africa. There, you will see Melilla, a metropolis perched on the sting of the Mediterranean Sea.

Migrants spend years attempting to get there.

This has provoked extreme border restrictions by Spanish officers.

“Melilla at present is sort of a bunker. It is like dwelling in an island,” says Irene Flores, a longtime Spanish journalist in Melilla.

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The Spanish enclave metropolis has modified in the previous few a long time, making it all of the tougher for folks like Steven Khon Khon to enter

Hearken to our full report by clicking or tapping the play button above.


To see the southernmost land border of Europe, you need to go to Africa. There, you will discover two cities perched on the sting of the Mediterranean Sea – Melilla and Ceuta. They’re politically a part of Spain, geographically surrounded by Morocco. Melilla tells a narrative about itself. Yow will discover it on a stone tile within the slim, winding streets of the outdated metropolis. The tile has the letter M in 4 alphabets – Arabic, Latin, Hebrew and Hindi. It represents 4 teams of people that’ve lived on this metropolis collectively for hundreds of years. However like each story of a spot, the one Melilla tells is a component actuality, half mythology. Muslims dwelling right here weren’t granted citizenship till the Eighties. Earlier than that, they had been stateless. And at present, the town’s historical past as a cultural mixing bowl is at odds with its place on the entrance traces of a world upheaval.

IRENE FLORES: (Via interpreter) Melilla at present is sort of a bunker. It is like dwelling in an island.

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SHAPIRO: Irene Flores has labored as a journalist in Melilla for greater than 35 years. She was born and raised on this enclave metropolis of Spain.

FLORES: (Via interpreter) Melilla has grown at all times seeking to Morocco. All the event within the metropolis has to do with Morocco.

SHAPIRO: We met at a cerveceria, a sidewalk cafe the place tapas come free with a beer. Snippets of Spanish and Arabic drift over from the encompassing tables. Rising up in Melilla, Irene Flores says, there was nearly no border in any respect.

FLORES: (Via interpreter) There was no fence. There was no border. It was, like, a free crossing by a checkpoint.

SHAPIRO: No passport required. She might go for a swim on a Moroccan seashore in the midst of the day and be again at work reporting from Spain in half an hour. However for journalists as of late…

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FLORES: (Via interpreter) The problems with the fence might be, like, 85% of the time.

SHAPIRO: The fence is definitely a number of fences, 4 layers deep, greater than 20 ft tall, fortified with armed guards patrolling the perimeter. All of that armor is paid for by the European Union to maintain out individuals who’ve traveled hundreds of miles to enter this fortified metropolis.

FLORES: (Via interpreter) Melilla is in some way a gate into Europe.

SHAPIRO: For the previous week, we have been reporting on the connection between local weather change, world migration and the rise of far proper politics. And yesterday, we checked out migration from the Moroccan aspect of those fences. In the present day, the view from contained in the enclave, starting with the migrant heart the place individuals who efficiently crossed the fence await the following step.

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It is not meant to be a jail, however the exterior positive appears prefer it, with cameras and a guard on the door. As journalists, we’re not allowed inside, however we will discuss to people who find themselves allowed to come back out.

ABDO MOHEMAD AHMAD: (Via interpreter) Effectively, I made it to Europe. That is all I wished.

SHAPIRO: Abdo Mohemad Ahmad left his dwelling in Sudan when he was 19 years outdated. Now he is 23, in a holding sample at this migrant heart, ready for permission to go to the Spanish mainland. He lists the nations that he is been by on this lengthy, strenuous journey – Sudan, Egypt, Libya…

AHMAD: Niger, Algeria…

SHAPIRO: …Niger, Algeria, Morocco. He did not name his household for a yr.

AHMAD: (Via interpreter) I did not need to give them false hope. So once I entered Morocco a yr in the past, I lastly contacted them.

SHAPIRO: Oh, and what did they are saying then, listening to from you for the primary time in so lengthy?

AHMAD: (Via interpreter) Effectively, they had been actually glad for me, however on the identical time, they yelled at me. As a result of even in case you’re in dangerous form, they mentioned, we must always have identified you are alive.

SHAPIRO: In every nation he handed by over the past 4 years, he skilled challenges that he can’t start to explain. However he can inform us about June 24 of this yr.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Yelling, inaudible).


UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Yelling, inaudible).

SHAPIRO: That date has grow to be a rallying cry. And it continues to make headlines in Spain as the federal government has come beneath strain for withholding data. We’ll warn you that within the subsequent minute or so, there will likely be some graphic descriptions of movies taken that day.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: (Non-English language spoken).

SHAPIRO: On June 24, Abdo joined an enormous crowd of individuals in Morocco to cost the border fence. Most of them had been from Sudan like him. Moroccan police fired rubber bullets and tear gasoline on the group. Based on Morocco and Spain, 23 folks died. However the quantity might be a lot greater. Human rights teams say greater than 70 others who ran on the fence that day are nonetheless unaccounted for. Morocco has refused to permit an unbiased investigation. International reached out to the Spanish Inside Ministry in regards to the occasions of June 24, they usually declined to remark.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: (Non-English language spoken).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: (Non-English language spoken).

SHAPIRO: The video from that day exhibits piles of our bodies and police dragging people who find themselves injured or useless. A type of killed was Abdo’s good good friend.

AHMAD: (Via interpreter) I used to be with him three hours earlier than. I began listening to he died. He did not make it. That was very tough.

SHAPIRO: Abdo Mohemad Ahmad was one of many fortunate ones who made it right here to Spain. So did a younger man from South Sudan named Steven Khon Khon.

When did you allow South Sudan?

STEVEN KHON KHON: 2016, yeah.

SHAPIRO: So you have been touring for six years.

He says he’ll always remember his pals who died on June 24.

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KHON KHON: As a result of I am going to always remember our brothers, relaxation in peace.

SHAPIRO: Steven’s story is much like migrants all around the world – spending years crossing borders, being detained, attempting once more, working abroad to lift sufficient cash to proceed the journey. He left dwelling together with his youthful brother when violence broke out in South Sudan. In Libya, they tried crossing to Europe by boat.

KHON KHON: I strive many time to cross the ocean. The police catch me, you already know, 15 time. Someday, whenever you caught, you set in jail six month, three month.

SHAPIRO: After spending a number of lengthy stretches in Libyan prisons, Steven and his brother determined to do that land crossing in Morocco as a substitute. However he says Moroccan authorities had been relentless.

KHON KHON: They offer us 24 hours. They are saying, once we discover you right here, now we have drawback.

SHAPIRO: Be gone in 24 hours or there could be an issue, authorities mentioned. That was June 23. Once they charged the border crossing the following day, Steven reached the opposite aspect. His youthful brother didn’t. After six years touring collectively, they’re now on reverse sides of the fence, in two completely different nations. The person who oversees this migrant heart and others relies in Madrid. And whereas Carlos Montero would not enable us to tour the power in Melilla, he did agree to speak with us over Zoom.

CARLOS MONTERO: (Via interpreter) Immigration is like water. Should you block it in a single place, the water goes to stream out some place else. That is simply the way in which it’s.

SHAPIRO: Which may be true, however the European Union has poured billions of {dollars} into attempting to cease the water from flowing. And much-right political events throughout Europe have used a distinct metaphor.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: (Non-English language spoken).

SHAPIRO: These politicians examine migrants to poison – one thing to be cleansed from the continent.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: (Non-English language spoken).

SHAPIRO: In Spain, the far-right celebration Vox has in contrast immigrants to animals.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: (Non-English language spoken).


SHAPIRO: A distinct, center-right political celebration ruled Melilla for many of the final 20 years. Miguel Marin is a pacesetter of that celebration. And so at his workplace within the heart of Melilla, I ask him in regards to the regular militarization of the border.

MIGUEL MARIN: (Non-English language spoken).

SHAPIRO: He blames the leftist nationwide authorities in Madrid and says, Spain wants immigrants. Our inhabitants is growing older. However migration must be managed, he says, by authorized pathways.

What you might be saying is one thing that we hear on a regular basis. I am not towards immigration. I am solely towards unlawful immigration, folks typically say. And final week we had been in Senegal. And we spoke to many individuals who mentioned, I went to the embassy. I requested for a piece visa. And I used to be advised no once more, once more, once more. And so do you suppose the system wants to vary to permit extra folks to come back to the nation legally?

MARIN: (Non-English language spoken).

SHAPIRO: Sure, and never solely in Spain, he says. The entire world wants a system the place nations that want guide labor can regulate migration from anyplace. I ask him about the way in which journalist Irene Flores described Melilla – the town that may be a gateway but additionally a bunker. And I wished to know, how do you steadiness the 2?

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MARIN: (Non-English language spoken).

SHAPIRO: Miguel Marin bristles, and his blue eyes flare. “Melilla shouldn’t be a bunker in any sense,” he says. “Have a look at your nation. The U.S. has an even bigger, longer fence on its border with Mexico. Is america a bunker?”

MARIN: (Non-English language spoken).

SHAPIRO: Practically 300 miles northwest of Melilla, we meet a good friend of Steven Khon Khon’s. He is the person we met on the migrant heart earlier. Husein Mohamed sits within the city of Espartinas. He’s in mainland Spain with two Sudanese pals. They sip espresso at an out of doors meals court docket full of locals. This group has been by a lot collectively. They’re actually extra like brothers now.

Did you all journey collectively?



Months earlier than that June incident the place so many individuals died, Husein Mohamed jumped the fence in Melilla. After we inform him that we met his good friend Steven, Husein opens his iPad and performs a video for us.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #6: (Non-English language spoken).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #7: (Non-English language spoken).

SHAPIRO: That is exterior of Melilla?

MOHAMED: I used to be care – my good friend. I used to be very glad.

SHAPIRO: The video exhibits Husein and others exterior the migrant heart welcoming the group that had simply crossed the border on June 24, together with Steven. They’re excessive fiving one another. Husein is carrying a newcomer on his shoulders. And whereas Husein’s totally dressed, his good friend is shirtless, his pants fully ripped from the wrestle to cross the fences. Shortly after that video, when Husein lastly arrived on the Spanish mainland, he broke down.

MOHAMED: After I enter right here, I used to be crying.

SHAPIRO: I can consider so many causes to cry. Which motive had been you crying?

MOHAMED: Six years on the street.

SHAPIRO: Had been you crying from happiness or unhappiness or the individuals who did not survive or your ache or all of the…

MOHAMED: All of it – I used to be glad and really unhappy.

SHAPIRO: Should you might discuss to the Husein of six years in the past, what would you inform him?

MOHAMED: Preserve going. Preserve going. Do not surrender.

SHAPIRO: We recorded that dialog with Husein on October 16. Quickly after that, Steven was transferred from Melilla to mainland Spain. Now he is in Barcelona, whereas Husein remains to be in Espartinas. With out papers, they can not get jobs. However they’ve utilized for asylum and hope to get permitted in a few month. In order that they need to maintain going, maintain going just a bit whereas longer.

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International transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an International contractor. This textual content will not be in its closing type and could also be up to date or revised sooner or later. Accuracy and availability might fluctuate. The authoritative document of International’s programming is the audio document.


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