MS Risk Blog

Migrant Arrivals in Spain Surge

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Spain’s migrant surge may mean that it could soon top Greece for arrivals, as migrants have been arriving on the Spanish coast in dinghies, small boats and even jet-skis in the hope that they can slip in undetected.

This year, the country has seen a dramatic rise in the number of migrants arriving on its shores – effectively meaning that it may soon overtake Greece to become Europe’s second most popular migrant destination. According to the latest figure released by the Organization for Migration (IOM), so far, 8,200 migrants have arrived in Spain this year – this figure is triple the number compared with this time last year and already more that the total figure for 2016. While the number of arrivals is much lower than Italy, which has seen more than 96,400 migrants arrive by sea this year, Spain is catching up with Greece, which has had 11,713 migrants arrive.

It appears that the good weather over the past few weeks have led to a sudden increase in the number of migrants arriving in Spain. On 9 August, a dinghy carrying dozens of migrants arrived on a popular tourist beach in Zahara de los Atunes on the coast of Andalusai. Sunbathers looked on a migrants jumped out of the small craft and ran up the beach after successfully crossing the Strait of Gibraltar. They dinghy’s point of departure was not known. According to the authorities, that same day twelve migrants arrived in waters off the Spanish territory of Ceuta in northern Morocco on board jet-skis, with one man drowning before he could be rescued. On the morning of 10 August, Spanish coastguards disclosed that they had rescued ten men from sub-Saharan Africa in a rickety boat off Tarifa in southern Spain.

IOM spokesman Joel Millman has disclosed that he believes that migrants taking the long route towards Italy via the Sahara and Libya, many of whom come from West Africa, are now choosing to take the “safer” coastal route through morocco, adding that they were also using smaller crafts to cross the short but choppy sea to Spain in the hope of slipping in undetected. This tactic is in stark contrast to the many migrants arriving from Libya, who are often packed onto leak, overloaded boats, with the intention of summoning aid as quickly as possible.

According to the IOM, over 100,000 migrants reached Europe from north Africa and the Middle East from January to June, with the overwhelming majority coming by sea.