Published: Sat, August 12, 2017
World News | By Carolyn Briggs

Spain on course to surpass Greece as European Union migration destination

Spain on course to surpass Greece as European Union migration destination

According to the IOM, 117,795 refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 so far, with nearly 83 percent arriving in Italy.

"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, was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

According to Otero, 7,900 people arrived in Andalusia in the first seven months of the year, nearly triple the number of arrivals in the same period in 2016.

About 30 migrants from Africa arrived in a boat on a southern Spanish beach two days ago and scattered among startled sunbathers.

So far this year, 8,385 refugees have entered Spain by sea, compared to 2,476 during the same period last year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a statement.

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

Ceuta and Melilla are today the main entry points to Spain for illegal migrants, 90% of whom are men, mainly from sub-Sahara.

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Millman says that it is probable that Spain will take the lead from Greece for having received the most migrants by the end of 2017.

"Migrants have said: 'Once you decide to take the risk, it is the route (Morocco-Spain) with the least risk, '" Villa said.

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.

Even if the number of migrants to Spain continues to rise, it is unlikely to reach the record of some 40,000 arrivals the country had in 2006, according to the Spanish Red Cross.

Italy is on track to remain by far the top first destination for migrants seeking to reach European shores. The passengers, mostly from Morocco and neighboring Algeria, were looking for a better life in Europe and using Spain as a doorway.

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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