a group of minors rescued after arriving at the Arguineguin wharf in the Canaries, Spain, on board a small boat | Photo/Archive7EPA/RAPPETI
a group of minors rescued after arriving at the Arguineguin wharf in the Canaries, Spain, on board a small boat | Photo/Archive7EPA/RAPPETI

The number of unaccompanied foreign minors arriving in Spain rose by over 60 percent in 2017, according to the latest government figures.

The number of unaccompanied foreign minors arriving in Spain rose by over 60 percent in 2017, according to the latest government figures. 


Last year, 6,414 minors arrived in Spanish territory as a result of the increase in pressure along the so-called western Mediterranean route. This was 2,417 more than in 2016, according to interior ministry estimates. Of the total, 2,177 came from Morocco. 

Overall, 17,413 unaccompanied children and adolescents have arrived in Spain since 2014, the ministry added.

One third of arrivals in Andalusia 

One third of arrivals (5,642) over the last four years have been given shelter in Andalusia. Next in line among Spain's 19 autonomous cities and communities for the number of unaccompanied foreign minors is Melilla (3,329), followed by Catalonia, the Basque Country and Valencia. 

Save the Children: 'Faults in the system'

"My mother is poor, she has nothing. I reached the border a week ago and entered Ceuta three days ago. I want to reach Spain to build a future for myself and help my mother. It's tough here, we are beaten and hurt while we sleep. I want only to learn a trade and work, in whatever job I can find," said 12-year-old Ahmed from Tangiers who is now struggling to get by on the streets of the Spanish enclave in Morocco. 

His story is told in the Save the Children report 'Los mas solos', which denounces the faults in the system for receiving, protecting and integrating unaccompanied foreign minors arriving in Spain. Over 100 young people like Ahmed are sleeping rough in Ceuta and Melilla. 

Official data 

The report confirms the official data, according to which 14 percent of the 28,349 migrants who arrived in Spain last year were minors. Furthermore, these figures reflect only those youngsters known to the authorities and whose age has been determined. They do not include minors who decide to pass themselves off as adults so as not to end up in reception centres. In addition, there are those who chose to leave their reception centre voluntarily and go underground: 825 in 2017, or whom 770 boys. 

2 in 3 asylum requests turned down 

Only around 100 unaccompanied minors have applied for asylum in the last four years and just 31 have been granted protection, according to the interior ministry data cities by the report. This means that 2 in 3 applications are turned down. By far the largest group by nationality comes from Morocco (accounting for 64.8 percent in 2017), followed by Algeria (9.6 percent). Syrians were the second largest group only in 2014, while the number of minors arriving from Ivory Coast has tripled from 72 in 2016 to 208 last year.
 

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