World

Migrant sea arrivals rising in Spain, could outpace Greece

Migrant sea arrivals rising in Spain, could outpace Greece

Migrants don't usually disembark on Spanish beaches but it has happened before, especially near the cities Melilla and Ceuta, which border Morocco.

That is more than triple the number who reached Spain at the same time a year ago, according to Joel Millman, a senior IOM spokesman, and already more than the total arrivals in 2016.

Spanish media reported that about 40 migrants were on the boat.

The numbers have dropped significantly since then, in a large part due to a deal the European Union struck with Turkey to keep migrants there.

However, overall numbers of migrants have fallen by nearly 60% from the same period the previous year.

Spain and Morocco on Wednesday agreed to close the Tarajal post to freight traffic for a week because of recent migrant crossing attempts.

According to data from Frontex, the number of migrants who made the crossing into Spain in the early months of the year more than doubled that of last year, with 7,500 people entering the country in the first three months of 2017, compared to 3,200 crossing during the same period in 2016.

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"It's possible that Spain will outperform Greece this year", Millman told AFP.

The International Organisation for Migration said it had found the shallow graves of 29 migrants on a beach in the southern province of Shabwa after they had been buried by survivors.

"Otero noted that Spain was capable of welcoming more refugees, adding that it could offer legal alternative ways to reach the country, such as humanitarian or student visas, adding that Spain was a somewhat safer route than those into Italy or Greece".

IOM figures showed that 121 migrant deaths were registered along the Spanish route in 2017, while Italy saw 96,861 arrivals in the same period, with 2,242 deaths registered on that route.

The teenagers will be taken to migrant reception centres, where they can apply for asylum in Spain.

The good weather over the past few weeks seems to have led to a sudden increase in the number of migrants arriving in Spain.


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