Tuesday. 28.11.2023

The governments of Spain and Morocco want to jointly discourage migrants from illegally crossing the Mediterranean to Spain, with the repatriation of illegal immigrants from Spain to the African continent as the main deterrent.

Repatriation is "an important element to discourage people," the Europa Press news agency quoted Spain's secretary of state for security, Rafael Pérez, as saying.

This would also benefit the fight against smugglers, Pérez was quoted as saying at a meeting of the two countries in Rabat, the Moroccan capital.

In addition, the resumption of joint patrols off the coasts of both countries, which were interrupted during the coronavirus pandemic, was agreed upon, Spanish newspaper El País reported on Saturday.

The new contact between representatives of both countries became possible after Spain gave in on a decades-long dispute.

Madrid now supports Rabat's plan to make the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara an autonomous province under Moroccan sovereignty. The Frente Polisario movement is fighting for independence there.

According to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, a total of 10,452 illegal entrants to Spain were counted in the year leading up to May 1. Most of them arrived from North and West Africa via the Atlantic on the Canary Islands, which belong to Spain.

Ceuta, Melilla

Meanwhile, 3,708 people arrived via the Spanish North African exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla as well as via the Western Mediterranean.

However, the journey across the sea in mostly small wooden or rubber boats is very risky and ends fatally for many.

In 2021, more than 4,400 migrants died trying to reach Spain by sea, according to the respected Spanish aid organization Caminando Fronteras.

On the route from West Africa to the Canary Islands alone, 4,016 people died in the Atlantic. The Canary Islands are only about 100 kilometres off the coast of West Africa.

Spain and Morocco agree on joint migration deterrence effort