Spain sees record number of migrant arrivals in 2017

Spain sees record number of migrant arrivals in 2017

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) - incorporated into the United Nations system in late 2016 - says the number of migrants arriving in Spain is three times higher than it was this time past year.

Spain witnessed a threefold increase in refugees entering the country using the sea-route this year, when compared to the same period last year, the United Nations migration agency said Friday.

"We assume that some of the change is due to the fact that the route [to Spain] is considered a safe route up to the coast through Morocco", Joel Millman, a senior IOM spokesman, said.

Every year, thousands of sub-Saharan African migrants living illegally in Morocco try to scale the border fences surrounding Ceuta and Melilla, Spain's other North African enclave, in a bid to enter Europe.

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Some 11,849 people have arrived in Spain so far this year, compared to 13,246 in all of last year, the IOM says.

'If so, that's a big change'.

Putting the situation in perspective, the IOM says that since the beginning of 2015, more than 1 million migrants have gone to Greece, 430,000 to Italy, and just 29,000 to Spain.

This is a different tactic to many migrants arriving from Libya, who are often packed onto leaky, overloaded boats, with the intention of summoning aid as quickly as possible.

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Spain's Guardia Civil police force said that nine of around 30 migrants who arrived on the beach on Wednesday had been found, all of them minors in their teens.

The migrants either make it to the Spanish coast or are intercepted in the Mediterranean Sea by Spain's marine rescue service and then taken ashore.

The migrants were eventually rounded up and taken to a reception centre, where they can apply for asylum in Spain.

By the time authorities had arrived, the group had dispersed and left the beach.

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The migrants were blocked by Moroccan police before they reached the double fence at the border.

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