The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) informed that there has been an increase in migrant boats arriving in Spain, thus putting a lot of pressure on the country’s already drained infrastructure and migrant capacities. More than 360,000 refugees and migrants reached the shores of Europe last year and more than 85,000 have already arrived in Italy this year.
The Italian route is by far the most popular with around 59,000 migrants between January and May, which is an increase by 32% compared to last year. While the Spanish route is less frequented, it saw 6,800 migrants during the same period, representing an increase of 75% compared to 2016. Only in June this year, about 1,900 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa – Cameroon, Gambia, Guinea, and Ivory Coast – reached Spain’s Andalusia.
Many migrants are diverting their migrant route from Libya towards Morocco and then to Spain due to a better security situation. 27-year old Buba Fubareh, who tried and failed to get to Europe via Libya earlier this year explained that “people are talking about going to Spain. It seems like it is safer to go through Morocco to Spain than through Libya. The difference is that Libya doesn’t have a president and Morocco does – there are not guns like in Libya.” There were reports that some African migrants passing through Libya had been beaten up, detained in camps with no food or water and even traded as slaves, held for ransom, and forced to labor or sexual exploitation.
According to the UNHCR, Spain is not prepared to deal with a surge in migrant arrivals and vulnerable groups, such as children, refugees who should be processed via asylum system or victims of human trafficking. Spokesperson for the UNHCR in Spain, Maria Jesus Vega commented that “what is clear is that, they (Spain’s government) have to get ready. They can’t be caught unprepared. What started happening elsewhere in Europe in 2015 can’t be allowed to happen here. It’s not yet an emergency, but you have to take into account that there are no structures here to deal with more arrivals.”