Migration through the Mediterranean : which European responses ?
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Spain, overwhelmed by increase in arrivals
On the 26th of July 2018, more than 800 people forced their way through the security fences separating Ceuta, a Spanish enclave, from the rest of Morocco in an event which left fifteen Spanish police officers and around a hundred migrants injured. Most of the migrants were taken to the Ceuta detention centre, where they can file an asylum request. According to local reports, this may have been the largest ever break-in into Ceuta, and the first since February 2018.
This event comes as more and more migrants arrive in Spain from Morocco, which has now overtaken the Central Mediterranean route towards Italy in terms of migrant numbers. Over four consecutive weekends this July, Spain has rescued almost 3,000 people.
By the end of October, almost 40,000 people have arrived in Spain by land or sea so far this year, more than double the number recorded over the same period in 2017. Along the Andalusian coast, the asylum centres are already overcrowded; sports halls have already been requisitioned and local authorities fear that this may become a second “Lampedusa”.
And although the European Commission has released more than 45 million additional euros to help Spain and Greece cope with the influx, the Minister of Interior Fernando Grande-Marlaska has called on the Union to find a Europe-wide solution to the migrant flow in the Western Mediterranean. Morocco has already said that they will need 60 million euros from Europe to stem the flow of illegal immigrants. As such, the European Commission announced at the end of the month that they would set up a 55 million euro fund to help control the Moroccan border – money which will be primarily used to bolster the Morocccan coast guard.
This article was originally published in July in the “Veille Europe” of France terre d’asile, available in French HERE.