Illegal arrivals into Spain soar by 500% in first six weeks of 2024 — but Socialist PM Sánchez rewards Morocco with €45 billion funding package

By John Cody
4 Min Read

The number of illegal migrants arriving on Spanish territory in the first six weeks of 2024 is almost six times more than the corresponding period last year, official figures show.

A total of 12,262 new arrivals by land and sea were recorded up to Feb. 11 compared with 2,568 arrivals in the first six weeks of 2023 — a difference of 493 percent, according to weekly data published by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The vast majority of arrivals are boat migrants from Africa — 12,204 sea arrivals and 58 land arrivals were recorded.

The vast majority of newcomers are exploiting the geographical vulnerability of the Canary Islands, southwest of the Spanish mainland, where 10,902 migrants have landed so far this year. The extent of the crisis can be measured by the fact this figure is up 902 percent for the same period last year — a time when local leaders on the Spanish archipelago were already sounding the alarm regarding unsustainable levels of illegal immigration.

The total number of arrivals since the turn of the year is already more than a fifth of the total figure recorded last year, despite usually being a time of fewer crossings due to adverse weather conditions, and more than a third of all arrivals in 2022.

The most current figures provided by Spain’s interior ministry as reported by La Gaceta show the trend continuing with a total of 14,084 illegal arrivals so far this year.

The Socialist government in Madrid is under pressure to contain the crisis from conservative opponents and local government leaders in the migrant hotspots who have expressed security concerns.

The number of reported rape cases in the Canaries has skyrocketed amid the immigration surge in recent years, rising in 2022 to 167 cases compared to the 91 reported the previous year — an increase of 84 percent — and more than double the 73 cases recorded in the last pre-pandemic year of 2019.

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The other major issue is the saturation of public services in the affected areas with Madrid, which have needed to create additional emergency accommodation for newcomers in disused military barracks and hotels on the Spanish mainland.

Footage is now widely circulated on social media of huge lines of migrants awaiting taxpayer-funded charter flights from the Canaries to Madrid in order to be dispersed throughout the country.

The main Barajas airport in the Spanish capital has also had to extend capacity by 50 percent at its asylum center to accommodate greater numbers flying directly into Spain from North Africa.

Spain’s left-wing prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, conducted a working visit to the Moroccan capital of Rabat on Wednesday to discuss, among other matters, the issue of illegal immigration.

At a press conference following his meeting with the Moroccan head of state, Mohammed VI, Sánchez announced plans to invest €45 billion of Spanish taxpayers’ cash to improve Morocco’s infrastructure and economy by 2050, leading conservatives to accuse the socialist politician of favoring the African nation at Spain’s expense.

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