HUFFINGTON POST

Photographer Documents Harrowing Journey From North Africa Into Spanish Enclaves

The migrants face violence, rape and even death.
A photo by Sergi Cámara documents an attempt by several men to cross the border fence separating M
A photo by Sergi Cámara documents an attempt by several men to cross the border fence separating Morocco and Melilla.

For the past 20 years, thousands of migrants and refugees from Sub-Saharan and North Africa have tried to use the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla as a gateway to Europe.

The coastal towns, which border Morocco but are autonomous Spanish cities, are the only land borders between the European Union and the African mainland. But crossing the border is a treacherous journey, as it is lined with trenches, watch towers, night-vision cameras, strong lights and a massive fence.

The construction of a 7.5-mile border fence between Morocco and Melilla was completed in 1999. Photojournalist Sergi Cámara has traveled there for more than 10 years to document the attempts of migrants and refugees to cross over to Spain through the gigantic barrier.

Cámara is on a mission to tell the world of the human rights violations taking place in the border region. In an interview with HuffPost Greece, he said that African migrants and refugees hiding out in the hills outside Melilla told him about beatings, injuries, rapes and even deaths.

“Through my photographs, I aspire to document the violations of human rights as well as the results of the border policies currently being implemented,” the photographer said.

Cámara said the migrants and refugees camp in groups, often together with fellow countrymen. They organize to cross together, mostly at night, and target the most vulnerable parts of the fence. They are well aware that most of them will not make it to the other side.

"Life in Morocco for migrants is really hard," Cámara added. "They feel they can catch a glimpse of heaven in front of them while hell itself is right at their back."

See more of Cámara's photos below:

An injured man lies on the ground after being hit by a stone.
An injured man lies on the ground after being hit by a stone.
Men look out for police as they climb the fence separating Morocco and Melilla, a coastal Spanish town.
Men look out for police as they climb the fence separating Morocco and Melilla, a coastal Spanish town.
Men dance before climbing the fence between Melilla and Morocco.
Men dance before climbing the fence between Melilla and Morocco.
Migrants and refugees hide in the mountains, waiting to scale the fence that separates them from the EU.
Migrants and refugees hide in the mountains, waiting to scale the fence that separates them from the EU.
A group heads toward the fence with ladders made of tree branches.
A group heads toward the fence with ladders made of tree branches.
People wait for the best moment to climb the fence. 
People wait for the best moment to climb the fence. 
Waiting in the mountains of Gurugu, several migrants decide how to try to make the leap across the border.
Waiting in the mountains of Gurugu, several migrants decide how to try to make the leap across the border.
Men look out for police as they approach the fence, which is guarded 24 hours a day.
Men look out for police as they approach the fence, which is guarded 24 hours a day.
A group of men jump the fence that separates them from the Spanish city.
A group of men jump the fence that separates them from the Spanish city.
Several young men clash with Spanish police officers in an attempt to avoid deportation back to Morocco. 
Several young men clash with Spanish police officers in an attempt to avoid deportation back to Morocco. 
A man hides from police to avoid being deported to Morocco.
A man hides from police to avoid being deported to Morocco.
A ladder leans against the fence that separates Melilla and Morocco. 
A ladder leans against the fence that separates Melilla and Morocco. 
Spanish police stop a group of men, all of whom were subsequently deported.
Spanish police stop a group of men, all of whom were subsequently deported.
A man sits perched atop a lamppost to avoid being deported by Spanish police. He sat there for five hours until he fell from
A man sits perched atop a lamppost to avoid being deported by Spanish police. He sat there for five hours until he fell from exhaustion. 
Workers heighten the fence to six meters in an attempt to keep migrants out of Melilla.
Workers heighten the fence to six meters in an attempt to keep migrants out of Melilla.
A man from Cameroon raises a ladder to mount the fence. 
A man from Cameroon raises a ladder to mount the fence. 
A man runs across a field.
A man runs across a field.
Men from Cameroon hide out in the mountains near Melilla. 
Men from Cameroon hide out in the mountains near Melilla. 
A man who was wounded while attempting to climb the fence prepares coffee.
A man who was wounded while attempting to climb the fence prepares coffee.
Portrait of a young man from Cameroon in the mountains near Melilla. 
Portrait of a young man from Cameroon in the mountains near Melilla. 
The fence separating Melilla and Morocco.
The fence separating Melilla and Morocco.

This story originally appeared on HuffPost Greece and was translated into English. 

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