According to Frontex data, almost 40 percent of the migrants were nationals of Algeria and Morocco, whose numbers have been on the rise since the middle of 2017. The remaining migrants came from Western Africa, mainly from Guinea, Gambia, and Ivory Coast.
“The flows arriving from Maghreb countries to Spain are very likely to increase this year,” said Fabrice Leggeri, the director of Frontex, adding that the flows were boosted by the use of fast boats capable of transporting large numbers of migrants.
Leggeri also pointed out that unrest in Morocco’s northern Rif region, together with the improvement of Spain’s economic situation have played a role in the increased arrival of illegal migrants to the Iberian peninsula, but sub-Saharan Africans are also crossing the border.
The situation in the Rif region of Morocco created an opportunity for more departures from its western coast in the second half of the year. Without jumping to conclusions, Leggeri speculated that the intense deployment of Moroccan police to the Rif region over the past months has resulted in a decrease in the number of Moroccan security forces controlling the Spanish border, which allowed migrants to cross the border more easily.
Amid the unrest in the Rif region, many NGOs have noted a remarkable increase in illegal migration attempts from the Moroccan coast to Spain.
Spain’s interior minister, Juan Ignacio Zoido, has also confirmed the “massive” arrival of Moroccans to the Iberian coast.