From the beginning of 2017 until August 6, the number of migrants arriving in Spain via sea has risen to 8,385, almost four times the number during the same period last year. Refugee numbers coming in through the Moroccan route could be more than the number of people coming to Greece via the Aegean.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), from the beginning of 2017 until August 6, the number of migrants arriving in Spain via sea rose to 8,385, almost four times the number seen at the same point last year (2,476).
The IOM noted that Spain might surpass Greece, where 11,713 arrivals have been recorded this year, compared with the 160,888 recorded in the same period in 2016.
Since the European Union granted Turkey three billion euros to halt the arrival of migrants on Greek coasts as part of an agreement signed on March 18, 2016, the number of people trying to cross the Aegean to reach Europe has plunged.
However, though the number of migrants arriving in Spain has risen considerably, it is still far from the IOM estimate of those arriving on Italian coasts via the central Mediterranean route: 96,861 people have arrived this year until August 9, compared with 100,328 between January and August last year.
Many migrants headed for Europe are from western Africa and some of them cross over to Europe through Morocco and not chaos-afflicted Libya for security reasons, IOM spokesman Joel Millman said. The boats used to reach Spanish coasts are much smaller than those used for the crossings between Libya and Italy.
The IOM also noted that there the land route between the Spanish border of the Ceuta enclave in Morocco was being used again. Nearly 250 migrants managed to get over the border in Tarajal in the last few weeks.
This is why the government of the autonomous Spanish city, the southernmost border of the European Union, decided to close the Tarajal crossing for goods and their sellers, in order to concentrate security forces' activities on stopping "assaults" by migrants via land. (ANSAmed)