A record number of migrants arrived on Spanish shores in 2018, with the total number of deaths in the Mediterranean Sea also reaching a new high.
According to the UN’s International Organization for Migration [IOM], 57,250 men, women and children managed to complete the journey into Spain between January and December 26.
However, this journey was not successful for all. The IOM said 769 migrants either died or disappeared on the journey to Spain, which is three times the number recorded in 2017.
The number of arrivals represents around half of all the undocumented migrants who crossed the Mediterranean Sea last year.
According to the IOM, 113,145 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea last year.
A report on Spanish news website El País says this averages out to nearly 160 arrivals per day.
Spain is now the primary destination for irregular migration from Africa, even though the passage across the strait is dangerous.
Amparo González, of the state-funded scientific research agency CSIC, said many migrants who are mainly from Morocco, Guinea and Mali will not settle in Spain.
“Between a third and a half of them will either go elsewhere in Europe or be deported to their home countries because they are from Algeria or Morocco,” she said.
“Those who remain are from sub-Saharan Africa, and these people are a minority.”
El País quotesd analyst Sergio Maydeu-Olivares who said this trend will continue until Europe agrees on a shared-migration policy, but this remains unclear until elections are held this year.
Yesterday, Spain’s maritime service rescued 50 people from a small boat in the Strait of Gibraltar, including several juveniles.