Some 80 percent of the irregular migrants were foreigners, while 29,715 irregular migrants were rescued at sea
Rabat – Moroccan authorities thwarted 88,761 irregular migration attempts in 2018. Nearly 80 percent of the migrants (70,571) were foreigners, according to the National Observatory of Migration.
The number represents a 37 percent increase from the previous year, according to a statement issued after a migration observatory meeting on Thursday, Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) reported.
The observatory, which is affiliated with the interior ministry, said that Morocco dismantled 229 trafficking networks last year.
Morocco rescued 29,715 irregular migrants at sea while 5,608 chose to voluntary return to their home countries, according the statement.
Last year Moroccan police police arrested 603 organizers of irregular migration networks, a sharp increase from their arrest of 294 organizers in 2017.
In July 2018, Morocco received €30 million of a €55 million fund approved by the EU to assist Tunisia and Morocco to tackle migration and border issues.
In October, Spanish news outlet El Pais reported that Morocco and Spain would receive €70 million in aid by the end of 2018 “mainly for the purchase of border control equipment.”
The European Commission’s website announced last month that the European body pledged a further €148 million to financially assist Morocco on the migration front by the end of month.
The EU will deliver an additional €110 million in the coming months, the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Thursday during a visit to Morocco.
The North African country has already received €30 million of the fund, according to Euronews.
During the first 13 days of 2019, at least 2,200 irregular migrants arrived in Europe via Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, and Malta across the Mediterranean, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Over 1,600 irregular migrants arrived in Spain by January 13, accounting for 73 percent of the total irregular migrants entering Europe via the sea.
By December 18 last year, Europe received 111,558 migrants across the Mediterranean in 2018, according to IOM. Arrivals in Spain accounted for 50 percent of all European ports of entry.
Last year, over 2,242 irregular migrants died on migratory routes in the Mediterranean, including 769 using the western Mediterranean route from Morocco to Spain.