“Lost in Melilla: Syrian refugees despair as Europe closes door,” by Julien Toyer and Juan Medina for Reuters:
Yahya Khedr has travelled for more than two years, through five countries and with six forged passports to get his family from the war-ravaged Syrian city of Homs to Europe.
But now that his wife and five children have reached Melilla, a small Spanish enclave on Morocco’s Mediterranean coast, their chance of a European life seems as remote as ever.
“People make it to Melilla hoping to find Europe,” said Khedr, who before his country’s war owned a successful European truck-parts import business. “But here, it’s an open-air jail.”
Armed guards and razor wire lining the 12-km (7.5-mile) frontier around the town have long discouraged Africans fleeing poverty and conflict from seeing Melilla as a gateway to Europe, 180 km (110 miles) away across open water.
But desperation has driven hundred of Syrians like Khedr to brave long journeys – and Moroccan crime gangs that prey on migrants – to fetch up at the gates, turning the port town of 80,000 into a new pressure point for waves of destitute people struggling to reach the safety and prosperity of Europe…