The two men were discovered trying to reach Europe from Africa after police cut open the mattresses strapped to the top of a van between Melilla, on the north African coast, and Morocco
The desperate plight of migrants has been laid bare after two people were discovered hidden inside sealed mattresses as they attempted to reach Europe from Africa.
Video of the two men shows police lifting the single mattresses, wrapped in plastic, off the top of a white van at a check-point between Melilla, on the north African coast, and Morocco.
As border officers begin cutting one of the mattresses open with a knife, a man – who appears dazed and is dressed in a black and white T-shirt with black jeans – pokes his head out and sits up before wiping his eye and looking around.
As the other mattress is being cut open, another barefoot man – in a blue logo T-shirt and denim jeans – gets out and then sits on the road.
He wrote: “As long as there are no safe routes to request asylum, situations like this will continue to occur in the southern border of Europe.”
The two males – thought to be sub-Saharan youths – were said to be in good health and did not require medical assistance.
The use of mattresses to hide immigrants could be a new “modus operandi”, local media reported.
No cases of this type of people smuggling has been reported before on the border of Melilla, the source added.
It comes days after Home Secretary Sajid Javid declared a “major incident” as the number of desperate migrants intercepted in the English Channel hit almost 100 since Christmas Day.
Mr Javid cut short his holiday as campaigners warned it was only a matter of time before people die in a mass tragedy in the cold, choppy waters between Dover and Calais – the world’s busiest shipping lane.
Two inflatable boats carrying 12 men from Syria and Iran were intercepted on December 28, adding to 82 people detained since Christmas Day.
Border Force officials brought the men to shore at Dover and handed them over to immigration officials to be interviewed.
Mr Javid took control of the response and requested an urgent call with France amid “concern that it is only a matter of time before people lose their lives”.
But he stopped short of meeting demands to supply another Border Force boat to patrol the Channel. Instead he requested “detailed options”, including “whether this is likely to encourage more people to try and make the crossing rather than act as a deterrence.”
Mr Javid has held a conference call with Border Force officials, Immigration Enforcement and the National Crime Agency.
The department said: “He has insisted the Home Office treat the situation as a major incident and has appointed a Gold Commander and asked for daily updates.
“The Home Secretary has also asked for an urgent call with his French counterpart over the weekend to reaffirm the continuing need for the UK and France to work closely together to tackle the problem.
“He has also commissioned detailed options from Border Force about the provision of additional vessels in the Channel, including another Border Force cutter, and whether this is likely to encourage more people to try and make the crossing rather than act as a deterrence.”