Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez at the Global Compact summit in Marrakech | Photo: ANSA
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez at the Global Compact summit in Marrakech | Photo: ANSA

The fight against illegal immigration in Spain was at the center of a meeting between Spanish Premier Pedro Sanchez and his Moroccan counterpart Saadeddine Othmani on the sidelines of an intergovernmental conference on migration organized by the UN in Marrakech.

Spain has become the number one country in Europe for the sheer number of migrant arrivals since the start of the year.The premiers from Spain and Morocco agreed on the need to strengthen bilateral cooperation to fight human trafficking, reduce the number of arrivals and help migrants return to their home countries, government sources said in a note.

An Italian foundation, ISMU, researching and studying multi-ethnicity released its 24th annual report this year, in which it looked at the phenomenon of migration. According to ISMU, 55,000 migrants traveled to Spain between January 1 and November 11 this year, including 49,000 who reached the country by sea and 6,000 by land; that was compared to 29,000 arrivals in Greece and 22,000 in Italy. 

Special focus on unaccompanied minors

The two leaders also put particular focus on the phenomenon of unaccompanied minors. A reported 12,000 minors have traveled to Spain since the start of 2018. Also at the center of talks was support for regular immigration, in particular through temporary work permits, like for instance the 2019 strawberry harvest during which 20,000 Moroccan seasonal workers are scheduled to travel to Spain. 

Both leaders stress cooperation is key to confronting the global challenges facing them and many other countries. During his visit to Marrakech, Pedro Sanchez also met with the director of the International Organization for Migration, Antonio Vitorino. 

New goals

During the meeting, they stressed that the Global Compact for a Safe and Orderly Migration is a ''goal'' because no country can manage such a global challenge on its own. Spain is one of the 164 countries that have signed the global compact. During the meeting, the director of the IOM thanked the Spanish government for its support. 

Sanchez and Vitorino expressed confidence in the non-binding agreement they signed as a useful tool to share responsibility and cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination in the management of migrant flows. In his speech at the summit in Marrakech, Spain's Socialist leader announced the upcoming start in Spain of a Plan for Citizenship and Integration and a state fund for the integration of immigrants. Without elaborating on the details of the initiative, Sanchez said that the project vies to promote a more cohesive and integrated society. 

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