Spain is claiming to be under “attack” as there is a sharp increase in the number of migrants arriving from Africa which is stretching the resources of the local authorities.
More than 500 migrants traveling on small boats were picked up by emergency vessels and civil guard patrols on Friday and Saturday alone, in Spanish waters of the southern provinces of Murcia and Almería.
Nearly 18,000 migrants reached Spain by sea between the beginning of this year and mid-November, according to the UN’s International Organisation for Migration, a three-fold increase on the same period last year. A total of 158 migrants died while making the crossing, the agency reported.
Migrants are increasingly using Spain as a port of entry to the European Union. The numbers of arrivals to Greece and Italy are still the highest in Europe but have dipped this year.
Spain on Tuesday defended holding in prison nearly 500 migrants who arrived in the country by boat
According to Hermann Tertsch, the Spanish coast “could soon become a horrific place, like those Italian ports we have seen over the last year”.The Right-wing Spanish commentator described the recent wave of migrants reaching his country’s shores as “an invasion by small vessels, which is obviously organized and synchronized”.
Paloma Favieres, of the Spanish refugee charity CEAR, blamed the government for using “xenophobic and racist language. It doesn’t help the situation of those seeking refuge, nor does it create a favorable climate for those who are fleeing, it just distances us from dialogue and harmony,”, she says.
As well as the increase in numbers, in recent months there has been another change in migration to Spain: the nationality of those traveling. Previously, sub-Saharan Africans from countries such as Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast had been the main arrivals, but Spanish government figures show that Moroccans and Algerians are now the predominant nationalities. Charities say the reasons for the increase in numbers are difficult to pin down