MADRID: Three African migrants, including one who is 15, were discovered squeezed inside compartments under car dashboards and behind seats at a border crossing from Morocco to Spain, police said Monday.
Spanish police found a 15-year-old girl and two men aged 20 and 21, Friday morning when they searched three cars at the border between Morocco and the Spanish territory of Melilla, a spokesman for the Guardia Civil police force said.
Two migrants were found crammed inside tiny spaces installed under car dashboards while a third was hidden in a compartment behind the rear seat of one vehicle, a Guardia Civil statement said.
Two of the migrants required medical attention because they showed “symptoms of asphyxia, disorientation and generalized pain in the joints due to horrible way in which they were traveling,” the statement added.
Police arrested the three drivers, all Moroccan men aged 19-31, on suspicion of human smuggling.
Border police also found a 20-year-old migrant on Friday hanging from the undercarriage of a truck at the border crossing.
Spain’s two North African enclaves, Melilla and Ceuta, have the European Union’s only land borders with Africa.
They are often used as entry points into Europe for African migrants, who usually either climb over border fences or try to swim along the coast.
Separately, Pope Francis warned Monday against a rise of intolerance and racism as far-right parties made historic gains in European elections.
“The signs of meanness we see around us heighten our fear of ‘the other,’ the unknown, the marginalized, the foreigner,” he said in a message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
“It is not just about them, but about all of us, and about the present and future of the human family.
“Migrants, especially those who are most vulnerable, help us to read the ‘signs of the times,’” he said.
Nationalist forces from Marine Le Pen in France to Matteo Salvini in Italy and Nigel Farage in Britain boasted significant gains in the EU Parliament elections which wound up on Sunday.
Salvini’s far-right League party did particularly well in Italy in centers seen as migrant “hot spots,” including a town held up by the left as a model of tolerance and integration.
Francis acknowledged the “fear” in many societies toward migrants and refugees arriving in search of protection or a better future.