The Spanish interior minister said migrant arrivals in Spain declined since February, thanks to Morocco’s efforts.
Rabat – The Spanish interior minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, highlighted Morocco’s efforts to fight migrant smuggling networks on Wednesday, March 20.
The efforts of the Moroccan authorities in this area “are leading to a decline in arrivals of migrants to the Spanish coasts,” the minister said in a meeting on migration in Malaga, southern Spain.
According to a statement from the Spanish Ministry of the Interior, Grande-Marlaska explained that “coordination with the countries of origin and transit in the fight against these networks has led, since February, to a decline in migrant arrivals that is being confirmed during this month of March.”
He underlined the need for increased cooperation with countries of origin and transit.
Morocco, a transit country, has been asking the European Union for funding to combat irregular migration, arguing that it cannot act alone.
Spain, as a gate to Europe, has also been collaborating with Morocco to control migration at their border. The EU gave both Spain and Morocco €70 million each in aid in October 2018, “mainly for the purchase of border control equipment,” according to Spanish news outlet El Pais.
In total in 2018, the EU pledged €148 million to financially assist Morocco for border control and job creation to improve migrants’ living conditions.
The most recent financial aid Morocco received was €30 million, announced by Hungary. The package was approved at a summit between eastern European prime ministers and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in February.
Last year, Morocco thwarted 88,761 irregular migration attempts according to government figures, up by 37 percent from the previous year’s statistics.
From January 1 to December 18, 2018, Europe received 111,558 migrants across the Mediterranean, with Spanish ports receiving 50 percent of all migrants who entered European ports, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Moroccans form 31 percent of the irregular migrants who arrived in Europe in 2018; 20 percent are from Guinea, and 16 percent from Mali.