TIME portfolio

Discover Melilla, the Southern Frontier in Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Melilla, a Spanish enclave in Morocco, has become a modern-day fortress

Melilla, a small Spanish enclave on the Moroccan coast, may seem like an idyllic destination for summer holidays, with sandy beaches, turquoise waters and historic Roman ruins. The town, which Spain conquered in 1497, is an architectural treasure where influences from different cultures can be observed side-by-side. Anchoring it all is the Ciudadela citadel, an imposing Spanish military fortress with insurmountable walls built to repel Moroccan forces in the 16th and 17th centuries.

But today, for many migrants, Melilla has a very different meaning. It’s the culmination of a weeks-long journey, often commenced in West Africa. It holds the promise of a better life in Europe — but only if they can evade border patrols and overcome the 10- to 20-ft.-high fences that have transformed Melilla into a modern-day fortress, too.

“It’s the border of the border,” says Gianfranco Tripodo. The Italian photographer has spent the last three years documenting migrants’ attempts to climb Melilla’s fence. “When I started to work in Melilla, there was so little coverage of the migrants’ situation,” he explains. “And I wanted to see with my own eyes the tangible and real consequences of the European Union’s migration policies on thousands of people.”

Tripodo followed migrants on both sides of the fence — in the many unofficial refugee camps set up around Melilla in Morocco, as well as at the Centros de Estancia Temporal de Inmigrantes (CETI) where migrants are processed once in the Spanish enclave. “Not far from the center, some migrants have built a sort of meeting place with chairs and stuff they’ve collected around the city,” he says. “People cook, drink or just hang out,” as they wait for authorities to settle their fate.

See the story of Fez, 27, a deaf migrant in Melilla as he tried to reach the rest of his family in Europe – a video directed by Guillem Valle, co-founder of Me-mo magazine.

On April 24, 2014, as Tripodo was working in the compound, word arrived that a “jump of the fence” was underway. “I immediately rushed there and some 40 migrants were standing on top of a building on the side of the border,” he says. “After a couple of hours, the Spanish Guardia Civil started to push back the migrants into Morocco.” Some of them were able to scale the barrier, stepping on European soil. “But, despite the fact that they had a right to stay in Spain according to European and Spanish immigration laws, some police officers tried to grab them to send them back to Morocco.” According to Tripodo, the resulting confrontation severely injured some of the migrants.

For the Italian photographer, the tense situation in Melilla is just one aspect of a wider immigration crisis that is affecting the whole of Europe, from Italy and Greece, all the way to France and the U.K. It’s crisis, he believes, that has yet to be met with an adequate response. “The countries that are most exposed to the flow of migrants — such as Spain, Italy and Greece — lack the resources and funds to take care of this emergency,” he says. Last year, for example, Italy was forced to scrap its Mare Nostrum rescue operations, which used to cost more than 9 million Euros per month. Its replacement is called Operation Triton, whose focus shifted from rescuing migrants to securing the border. In the first six months of 2015, about 2,000 people have died in the Mediterranean.

“You can’t stop people from coming to Europe simply by making the route more dangerous or by strengthening the border,” he says. “This doesn’t work, and everyone can see what the consequences are in their newspapers every day: more tragedies and more deaths.”

Gianfranco Tripodo is an Italian photographer based in Madrid, Spain.

Mikko Takkunen, who edited this photo essay, is an Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.

Francesca Trianni is a video producer at TIME. Follow her on Twitter @frantrianni.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent

TIME On Our Radar

A Photographer Turns Real-Life Soldiers Into Toys

Simon Brann Thorpe chose a different approach to document a 40-year-long conflict

For 40 years, a little-known conflict has opposed a group of separatists, called the Polisario Front, to the government of Morocco in Western Sahara. Generations of refugees have been forced out of the region, and yet, the world has taken little notice. For photographer Simon Brann Thorpe, this had to change. But he didn’t want to take usual photographs of conflicts. Instead, he collaborated with one of the Polisario Front’s military commanders to create a body of work that goes beyond documentary. He transformed real life soldiers into toy soldiers to examine the true impact of the war’s stalemate. He speaks to TIME LightBox.

Olivier Laurent: Why did you want to do something about the conflict in Western Sahara?

Simon Brann Thorpe: In 2004, I did a project about landmine victims there. It was my first project to try to bring awareness to the issue of landmines, which are as invisible in the area as the conflict itself–both physically and metaphorically. That was what introduced me to the bizarre, absurd nature of the conflict and how and why it’s remained invisible for so long. Fairly soon after that, I knew I wanted to go back. But I didn’t want to cover the conflict with traditional reportage, as that’s not my background or genre. The overriding question was why has this conflict in Western Sahara remained so utterly invisible for 40 years? I then attempted to imagine the emotional and physical manifestations of being trapped, powerless, in a perpetually unresolved cycle of postcolonial conflict. The concept of Toy Soldiers came to me out of this cycle of thought and it just seemed to fit perfectly with the situation on the ground as well as allowing for people in the West to have an emotional, physical and nostalgic response to a completely foreign reality, triggered by a familiar symbol of their own childhood and culture.

Olivier Laurent: Doesn’t this particular approach, where soldiers become toy soldiers, create an uniformity and a loss of identity of the individual soldiers?

Simon Brann Thorpe: War creates loss of identity (not just of the individual but also, in this case, of nation) and therefore it was one of the key narratives I wanted to communicate through the project’s concept: a reality reconstructed, placed onto a conflict that is almost utterly invisible.

Olivier Laurent: How did you find this commander and convince him to collaborate on this project?

Simon Brann Thorpe: I met the commander through the Polisario representatives in London and through contacts in the refugee camps made during my first visit there in 2004. He’s a refugee like all the other Sahrawis divided by the conflict, and the commander of a particular region known as “Liberated Western Sahara”. I think the most important thing for him was my credibility as an artist and in what the project was trying to achieve, and then on a secondary note, that he completely related to the concept through his own experience. As custodians of this little stretch of land, their existence within this conflict without end and at the mercy of other people’s decision-making is something that resonated through the concept that is a narrative on a powerless state of being.

Olivier Laurent: How did the collaboration work? Were the soldiers happy to take part in this? What was their state of mind?

Simon Brann Thorpe: The collaboration was set a long time before the image production began and took many forms, the first of which was the location scout which took place over a year ahead of the main production. Then we had to produce the bases [for the soldiers] to stand on. I wanted to have the soldiers physically act out that stance on the base rather than to add it in post-production because that enactment was an essential part of the project and concept. So we made them out of old oil drums, which we covered in paint and in sand until they were ready to be carted around to each location. The soldiers would carry them in the heat and cut their fingers on them. It was an interesting experience and one that I’ll never forget in terms of the willing participation of the soldiers in this project. It was amazing and very humbling.

Olivier Laurent: How important was that collaboration for you?

Simon Brann Thorpe: The collaboration was everything to the project! Without it, it would not have happened or it would have had a completely different feeling, resonance and credibility.

Olivier Laurent: There are three different sets of images in your work – two that focus on the toy nature of these soldiers, and one that are close-up portraits of them. Why that last set?

Simon Brann Thorpe: The portraits were an essential element to the project because at the center of this conflict — like all conflicts — you have the humanity, the vulnerability that is the human flesh. It also personified the project and added an essential human element that negates the objectification that is the association to plastic toy soldiers. A key element in the narrative of the project is around our objectification and desensitization to war through entertainment. To counter that, the portraits show the human at the centre of war and conflict, their eyes closed emphasizing their human vulnerability and loss of identity.

Olivier Laurent: In the end, the book brings together fact and fiction. Do you think this approach is helpful in bringing attention to stories that might not, otherwise, interest the public? Is it an approach you would like to see used more widely in documentary photography?

Simon Brann Thorpe: Toy Soldiers is an attempt at a new dialogue on war and conflict, a dialogue whose narrative asks many questions of how images of war are digested and consumed. Especially now in the digital age, which is ravenous for content but short on attention spans. What are the consequences of ubiquitous images of suffering? Do they desensitize an audience? And what makes one conflict more “newsworthy” than another? What the reaction to Toy Soldiers has shown me is that actually a conflict that mainstream media has overlooked or ignored, for whatever reason, actually can have huge resonance with people all over the world when looked at from a different angle.

Simon Brann Thorpe‘s photobook Toy Soldiers is published by Dewi Lewis and available now.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent

TIME Spain

Boy Smuggled in Suitcase to Spain Reunited With His Mother

Adou Ouattara
Jorge Arbona Lopez — AFP/Getty Images A handout pictured realeased shows Ivorian boy Adou Ouattara, left, hugging his mother Lucie Ouattara after being reunited with her in Ceuta, on June 8, 2015

Adou Ouattara had been living in a youth home for migrants for a month

An eight-year-old boy from the Ivory Coast was reunited with his mother Monday, a month after he was found hidden in a suitcase at a Spanish border crossing.

Adou Ouattara was found curled up inside a suitcase without air vents by police in Ceuta, a Spanish border checkpoint in North Africa, on May 7, reports Agence France-Presse. A 19-year-old woman was carrying the case through a security checkpoint when a scanner detected Adou inside.

Adou’s mother left the Ivory Coast with his grandmother last year when she went to Spain to go meet his father, who was already living legally in the Canary Islands. His father was arrested and charged with human-rights abuse for trying to smuggle his son across the border.

The family is one of thousands that risk their lives trying to enter Spanish territories adjacent to Morocco every year, hoping to travel to Europe for a better life. Many scramble over the 23-foot fences, and others smuggle themselves in cargo or try to swim.

Adou was living in a center for underage migrants in Ceuta when he was finally reunited with his mother on Monday.

“His mother cried,” Maria Antonia Palomo, the Ceuta official in charge of juvenile affairs, told the media. “It’s a very beautiful day.”

[AFP]

TIME Spain

Boy Who Was Smuggled to Spain in Suitcase Is Granted a Temporary Residence Permit

In this photo released by the Spanish Guardia Civil on Friday, May 8, 2015, a boy curled up inside a suitcase is seen on the display of a scanner at the border crossing in Ceuta, a Spanish city enclave in North Africa.
Spanish Interior Ministry via Associated Press In this photo released by the Spanish Guardia Civil on Friday, May 8, 2015, a boy curled up inside a suitcase is seen on the display of a scanner at the border crossing in Ceuta, a Spanish city enclave in North Africa.

The Ivorian was discovered curled up in the case as it passed through a security scanner

An 8-year-old boy who was found hidden in a suitcase as he was being smuggled from Morocco into Spain was granted a temporary residence permit from the local government Thursday.

Adou Ouattara from the Ivory Coast was discovered when police scanned the suitcase at a checkpoint in Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in North Africa, on May 7, reports the Associated Press.

The city’s Interior Ministry office said Ouattara’s temporary visa is good for one year.

The boy’s father, Ali Ouattara, was arrested on charges of human-rights abuse for trying to have the boy smuggled across the frontier, but his legal representative insists the man knew nothing of the plan.

Lawyer Francesco Luca Caronna told AP that Ouattara, who lives legally with his wife in Spain, believed his son was traveling in a car with a visa that had been paid for abroad.

A Moroccan woman who was carrying the suitcase was also detained. She is apparently not a family relative.

[AP]

TIME movies

Egypt Bans Exodus for ‘Historical Mistakes’

Exodus Movie
Twentieth Century Fox

The film is facing similar trouble in Morocco

Although Exodus: Gods and Kings is set in Egypt, you won’t actually be able to see it there.

According to Deadline, Ridley Scott’s adaptation of the biblical story of Moses has run afoul of Egyptian censors. Abdul Sattar Fathi, the head of the Egyptian state censorship board, harshly criticized the film, citing “historical mistakes” like claiming the Jews built the pyramids and portraying Moses as a general, not a prophet.

“Furthermore,” Fathi said, “it shows ancient Egyptians as a mob group persecuting peaceful Jews. Our board has refused this out of respect for Egyptians’ feelings.”

It’s not just Egypt, either—Exodus is reportedly facing similar trouble in Morocco, a trend that will very likely continue as the film makes its way to other Arab countries. That the film would struggle in the Middle East isn’t really a surprise—Noah, this year’s other biblical epic, faced similar opposition, as strict religious laws regarding the portrayal of prophets often stand in the way.

This article originally appeared on EW.com

TIME Travel

The 50 Best Places to Travel in 2015

best-places-to-travel-in-2015
Robin Thom

Presenting 50 incredible destinations for 2015. Where will you go this year?

“Fez is multilayered, multifaceted,” says resident Tara Stevens. “Every time I go out the front door, I discover something. This is a city on the cusp of change—and it’s exciting to be a part of that.”

Stevens, a British food writer, and American Stephen Di Renza are behind Fez’s stylish Restaurant No. 7, which hosts a rotating series of guest chefs. They’re part of a group of expats restoring riads and encouraging experimentation—along with enterprising locals like Anis Sefrioui, who recently unveiled Hotel Sahrai, with 50 contemporary rooms overlooking an infinity pool and a light-filled spa with elaborate latticework.

The world is getting smaller, but the chances of having an extraordinary new experience are only increasing. We’ve identified 50 standout destinations, based on industry news and trends, with input from contributing writers, A-List travel agents, and our new local experts. These are the places changing the travel map, whether it’s an emerging arts hub in Germany or a quiet stretch of sand in the Caribbean.

MORE The Top 11 Travel Trends for 2015

So where else can 2015 take you? The panda capital of Chengdu, China, is appealing to a broader range of travelers with a new 72-hour no-visa policy and a packed lineup of hotel openings: Six Senses, Fairmont, and Swire’s Temple House. In Japan, meanwhile, the dollar has hit new highs—good timing for powder buffs who can also now use Vail’s Epic Pass at Hokkaido’s Niseko United resort.

And you may be surprised by what’s brewing close to home. We selected a dozen destinations in the U.S., including Houston, for its ambitious food scene, and Miami, where the spotlight has turned to the Mid-Beach neighborhood. The latest art-centric 21c Museum Hotel will open its doors in Durham, NC, a once-sleepy college town that now thrums with fair-trade coffee shops, micro-distilleries, and some of the best barbecue around.

What inspires a trip varies from person to person, of course. But as a head start, we’ve mapped out 12 months’ worth of places with the kind of “it” factor that Fez’s Tara Stevens describes.

MORE This Is The Number One Travel Destination for 2015

Fez, Morocco

For more than a decade, Marrakesh has been the Moroccan destination on everyone’s list. Fez, about 240 miles northeast, was often an afterthought. But slowly, quietly, a sophisticated scene is taking root. It started with expats and locals restoring riads, and continues as hotels, restaurants, and galleries pop up. The biggest news is the Hotel Sahrai, with a hip rooftop bar and 50 rooms, many overlooking an infinity pool. Other notable places to stay include the medina’s Karawan Riad, whose seven renovated suites offer a modern alternative to more traditional riad hotels, and Palais Faraj, a 19th-century palace transformed by architect Jean-Baptiste Barian. On the culinary front, Restaurant No. 7 is making waves with a rotating series of acclaimed guest chefs. It’s the brainchild of British food writer Tara Stevens and American Stephen Di Renza, part of a group of expats who are encouraging experimentation. So far, overdevelopment isn’t an issue. Whether this will last—especially with the 2015 debut of an upgraded airport, set to accommodate 2.5 million passengers, five times the current volume—is anyone’s guess. Don’t wait to find out. This is the moment to see Fez. Find out more about T+L’s top pick for 2015.

Catskills, NY

The region that welcomed Jewish families in the ’50s, hippies in the ’60s, and soon, perhaps, casino gamblers is also making room for a new tribe: hip, design-crazed travelers. A string of stylish B&Bs have opened, many of them by transplants from Manhattan and Brooklyn (call them “hicksters”) who value buzzwords like local, authentic, and handmade. Among them are the bohemian-chic Hotel Dylan in Woodstock, the Arnold House in Livingston Manor, with its tavern and diminutive spa, and Phoenicia’s Graham & Co., where the retro amenities include Tivoli radios, bonfires, and a badminton court. Area farms provide the ingredients for inventive restaurants like Table on Ten, in Bloomville, which just added a trio of whitewashed rooms upstairs. The blackjack tables—and a few megaresort proposals that envision the return of the area’s Borscht Belt heyday—may be only a few years off, so now is the time to enjoy fly-fishing, hiking, antiquing, microbrewery-hopping, and other placid pursuits.

Rotterdam, Netherlands

If Amsterdam is a study in old-world elegance, then the scrappier port city of Rotterdam is all big, futuristic ambition—and its constantly unfolding city center has become one eye-popping explosion of style. The latest attraction, and reason enough to visit, is the MVRDV-designed Markthal, an igloo-like horseshoe that houses 96 stalls (Dutch cheeses to Moroccan spices, reflecting the polyglot city), 20 shops, nine restaurants, and 228 apartments. It also happens to feature Holland’s largest artwork: a trippy nimbus of mammoth, tumbling fruits and vegetables arching across the market ceiling on 4,500 aluminum panels. Other recent starchitect landmarks include the multipurpose Rotterdam Central Train Station and native son Rem Koolhaas’s nhow hotel, sitting like a pile of stacked metal boxes on the south bank of the Maas River, the city’s reigning cultural hub. After visiting the neighboring Netherlands Photo Museum and the lipstick-red New Luxor Theater, toast a trip well-taken with a Dutch Blossom cocktail in the hotel bar.

MORE How to Get Paid for a Flight Delay

Puerto Plata, D.R.

Far from the resort-clogged beaches of Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic’s less-frequented northern shore has remained largely under the radar. But developments slated for 2015 in Puerto Plata are bound to lure well-heeled sun-seekers. First up is The Gansevoort, offering three-bedroom apartments with private pools and four-bedroom penthouses equipped with rooftop hot tubs. Later in 2015, Aman Villas will become the second Caribbean outpost from Singapore-based Amanresorts and the first golf-integrated Aman Resort. It’s the first phase of a development that aims to introduce some 400 residential villas, along with sports and equestrian facilities. Each is a welcome departure from the island’s cookie-cutter all-inclusives—and a promising sign of what’s to come in the luxury circuit.

Wasatch Mountains, Utah

You can craft a linear story arc from the first edition of Robert Redford’s film festival in 1984 to the summer 2014 purchase of Park City Mountain Resort by Vail Resorts—the behemoth operator’s second recent foray into Park City (it bought the Canyons in 2013). Along the way a small mining town became a cauldron of Olympic athletes, Hollywood’s A-list, and luxury hotel brands like St. Regis and Waldorf Astoria. But a ski region blessed to have won the geographical lottery—seven world-class resorts span three parallel canyons in the rugged Wasatch Mountains, all within an hour’s drive—remained second fiddle to neighboring Colorado, whose star has shined brighter. That’s about to change. Where Vail’s vaunted Epic Pass goes, a legion of loyal snow junkies follows. The new year brings new restaurants, high-speed chairs, and lifts, including one that connects Canyons to PCMR, making it the largest ski resort in the U.S. And the industry is buzzing over a proposal that seems headed for approval called One Wasatch, which would link all seven ski areas in a European-style mega-network spanning 18,000 acres and 100 lifts. The project will have major tourism implications, introducing a new flock of riders to what locals proudly declare on their car license plates: the greatest snow on earth.

Read the full list HERE.

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TIME ebola

Morocco Won’t Host the Africa Cup Amid Ebola Fears

Nigeria v Burkina Faso - 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Final
Lefty Shivambu—Gallo Images/Getty Images John Obi Mikel celebrates holding the trophy during the 2013 Orange African Cup of Nations Final match between Nigeria and Burkina Faso from the National Stadium in Johannesburg on Feb. 10, 2013.

Organizers have disqualified the country in response to its refusal

Morocco will not be hosting the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations after being removed by organizers due to the country’s Ebola fears.

Morocco had a deadline of Nov. 8 to confirm whether it would host the soccer tournament, and instead, the country asked for the tournament to be postponed. The Confederation of African Football (CAF), which organizes the event, refused Morocco’s request on Tuesday, and has insisted that the tournament will start on schedule, kicking off Jan. 17.

“Following the refusal of the Moroccan party, the Executive Committee has decided that the national team of Morocco is automatically disqualified and will not take part in the 30th edition of the Orange Africa Cup of Nations in 2015,” CAF wrote in a statement. A new host has not been identified, but CAF says it’s received “some applications” from other countries wanting to host the competition.

The move comes amid growing fear and stigma of the Ebola outbreak which is affecting Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Sierra Leone’s soccer team was hailed with chants of “Ebola, Ebola” while playing in games in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon, and the team has been forced to stay in hotels with no other guests, the New York Times reports.

Ebola is only spread through direct contact with bodily fluids of an affected person, and individuals are not contagious until they start showing symptoms.

 

TIME Morocco

Morocco Barred From 2015 Africa Cup of Nations

FBL-AFR-2013-BUR-NGR-MATCH32
Issouf Sanogo—AFP/Getty Images Nigeria's national football team players hold the trophy as they celebrate winning the 2013 African Cup of Nations final against Burkina Faso on Feb. 10, 2013 at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg.

Nation had requested postponement over Ebola fears

The Confederation of African Football confirmed Tuesday that the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations tournament would not be held in Morocco, which refused to do so over Ebola fears, and that Morocco’s team would be disqualified.

Morocco had asked the confederation to consider postponing the game until health workers had managed to contain the spread of the virus across West Africa, which the World Health Organization reports has killed some 5,000 people so far. The request was denied, the BBC reports, which gave Morocco until Saturday to reconsider.

The confederation also announced that Morocco’s squad would be automatically barred from the games and that its executive committee had already been convened in Cairo to consider alternative sites for the games, scheduled to begin on Jan. 17 and end on Feb. 8.

TIME portfolio

From Belfast to Baghdad, See the World’s Dividing Walls

When Lieutenant-Colonel Harald Jäger made history by opening the Bornholmer Strasse checkpoint of the Berlin Wall at 11.30 pm on November 9, 1989, without any orders, an eager young photography student named Kai Wiedenhöfer was nearly 300 miles away in the city of Essen.

At that time, the lensman was unaware that Jäger had effectively ended the separation of East and West Berlin that had existed since 1961; one that had restricted the free movement of citizens between the Soviet administered east of the city and the Allied administered west.

But that evening, one of Wiedenhöfer’s professors called with simple instructions: get to Berlin as fast as you can. The wall is coming down. This is huge: “We jumped into a car and raced all the way to Berlin,” Wiedenhöfer tells TIME. “[We] got to Potsdamer Platz at about four or five in the morning.”

Kai WiedenhšferPotsdamer Platz, Berlin, Germany, 1989.

Over the following days, Wiedenhöfer captured the activity as the wall was gradually dismantled. He was there when East German security guards watched crowds of East Berliners stream through to the west on foot and in their Trabants, and when West Berliners welcomed them on the other side.

But now, 25 years after the wall came down, it seems more and more separation walls are going up. The Guardian estimates that at least 6,000 miles of barriers have been built worldwide in the last decade alone. Wiedenhöfer says he sees this fact as flying in the face of globalization’s promise to remove all barriers.

So in 2003, encouraged by a colleague at a Swiss newspaper, he started photographing the walls separating Palestinian territories from Israel. Later, he visited the towering peace lines of Belfast, the monolithic edifice of the Baghdad Wall and the 22-foot high Melilla border fence (which separates the Spanish exclave from surrounding Morocco), among many others.

Kai WiedenhšferWest Berlin, Germany, 1989.

It was a project that took seven years, and one that was sometimes fraught with difficulty. In a few locations, safety was a concern. In others, access could pose problems. Wiedenhöfer also received criticism for portraying, as some saw it, only one side of a story (by photographing, say, one side of a wall). “I have no personal involvement in these conflicts,” he explains. “For me it’s mostly to get the best angle of the barrier or the best light situations.”

It is the visual similarity of Wiedenhöfer’s work that is perhaps most striking, though. When placed beside one another, his images seem to blend into a tableau of partition and separation, in which Belfast becomes almost indistinguishable from Baghdad.

It might not be so surprising, he says, because what he found in each place was often the same: “When you build a border, or fence, the life [of the area] mostly dies down and people move away.”

“This is a phenomenon you see in every place.”


Kai Wiedenhöfer is an award-winning photographer based in Berlin. His book Confrontier is available now.

Richard Conway is reporter/producer for TIME LightBox.


TIME Spain

Surreal Scene of Migrants Atop Spanish Border Fence

A golfer hits a tee shot as African migrants sit atop a border fence during an attempt to cross into Spanish territories between Morocco and Spain's north African enclave of Melilla
José Palazón—Reuters A golfer swings as African migrants sit atop a fence during an attempt to cross from Morocco into the Spanish enclave of Melilla on Oct. 22, 2014.

The fence is often the scene of would-be border-jumpers aiming to reach Europe

Among the top issues this year for European countries along the Mediterranean has been how to handle the flow of migrants from Africa and the Middle East who seek a better life within their borders. Tens of thousands of refugees and migrants journeyed across perilous routes throughout the year, and in thousands of cases met death before land. Others have attempted to cross into one of the two Spanish enclaves, Melilla and Ceuta, that border Morocco.

The latter scene played out again on Oct. 22, and was captured in a picture at the border fence surrounding Melilla that later went viral online. Eleven men are seen sitting atop the fence as a police officer approaches — and as two women play golf below. One is in mid-swing while the other is turned toward the group.

José Palazón, an activist with a migrant-rights group, spotted the men above the golf course and thought it was “a good moment to take a photo that was a bit more symbolic,” he told El Pais. “The photo reflects the situation really well — the differences that exist here and all the ugliness that is happening here.”

Spain’s interior ministry said about 200 people tried to scale the fence that day, according to the Associated Press. About 20 successfully crossed, while another 70 stayed on top of the fence for hours.

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