The latest data on irregular migrant arrivals from Morocco to Spain, covering the present year to Tuesday of this week, shows a 39% drop compared with the same period in 2018, for a total of 18,018 people.
With financial and logistical backing from the EU and Spain, Morocco has deployed its security forces to contain the migratory pressure on Europe. The Spanish government of Pedro Sánchez has presented Morocco as a strategic partner in the fight against unauthorized immigration and got Brussels to extend a €140 million check to that country in exchange for its assistance. Spain will add €30 million in support.
Rabat and Madrid have reactivated bilateral agreements that had been dropped, such as the one allowing for the quick return of migrants to Moroccan territory right after they jump the fences at Ceuta and Melilla.
Moroccan security forces have also intensified the number of raids, forced transfers and deportations. Moroccan statistics, which the EU considers unreliable, show that Rabat has stopped 42,000 crossing attempts. The vast majority of would-be border crossers, 80%, hail from sub-Saharan Africa.
Morocco’s assistance has been essential to Spain’s ability to present itself to Brussels as the EU member who is doing the best job at controlling Europe’s southern border.
A recent study by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) showed that a little over half of the people arriving in Spain stay there; France is the second country of preference.
The 39% drop means that the Spanish government is coming closer to its goal of reducing irregular immigration by half in 2019. Last year, by comparison, the western Mediterranean route became the main gateway into Europe after Italy closed off access to its ports. As a result, there were 65,000 arrivals in Spain. These days, it is Greece that is seeing the highest arrival figures in the Mediterranean: 28,200 so far this year.
Via El Pais