Half of undocumented migrants who crossed the Mediterranean to Europe arrived in Spain, setting a new record in both irregular migrant arrivals and deaths.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimated the figure could surpass 58,000 arrivals by the end of 2018 with an average of almost 160 arrivals daily.
El Pais added that 300 migrants arrived in Algeciras on December 28 aboard the Open Arms humanitarian ship.
Arrivals in Spain this year accounted for 50 percent of all undocumented migrants that arrived in Europe via Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, and Malta across the Mediterranean, which totalled 113,145 by December 19, 2018, according to IOM.
While the number for Spain is a record, the total number is low compared to the migrants and refugees who entered Europe by sea during the same period in 2017 (168,258) and 2016 (359,160).
El Pais cited Amparo Gonzalez of the state-funded scientific research agency CSIC, saying that many of the irregular “migrants – who are mainly from Morocco, Guinea and Mali – will not settle down in Spain.”
Thirty to 50 percent of the irregular migrants who enter Spain either go to other European countries, or are deported to their home countries, especially if they are Algerians or Moroccans, Gonzalez stressed.
She noted that sub-Saharan africans in Spain represent a minority of migrants, blaming media for spreading the misconception that “all of Africa wants to come to Spain.”
Javier Aparicio Maydeu, an analyst, believes that irregular migration across the Mediterranean route will continue until Europe reaches an agreed-upon migration policy.
But with the 2019 election coming soon in Spain “any changes will be put on hold,” Maydeu added.
2,242 people died crossing the Mediterranean
More than 3,400 people died or went missing on migratory routes across the globe in 2018, including 2,242 deaths only in the Mediterranean.
At least 769 undocumented migrants died using the western Mediterranean route from Morocco to Spain in 2018, over three times the recorded Mediterranean deaths in 2017, according to IOM.
Waves of undocumented migrants will continue reaching Europe through Spain this year. Just yesterday, January 1, Spanish rescue services assisted 111 migrants traveling on three boats in the early hours of the day, according to El Pais.