At least 69 irregular migrants have reached the Algarve region in southern Portugal from the Moroccan city of El Jadida.
Rabat – Portugal and Morocco have pledged to join efforts to curb irregular migration, the Portugal News reported earlier this week.
According to the Portuguese newspaper, Rabat and Lisbon announced the move in a statement following a videoconference between Portugal’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Eduardo Cabrita, and Morocco’s Minister of the Interior, Abdelouafi Laftit.
The two officials built the conference’s talking points on the strong cooperation between Morocco and the European Union on security issues, the statement said. They expressed their governments’ readiness to “intensify” their security cooperation within the broader EU-Morocco agenda of preventing and fighting against “illegal migration and human trafficking.”
In its statement, Portugal’s Ministry of Internal Affairs also highlighted Morocco’s critical importance to the EU on a wide range of sensitive issues, including migration and security.
The news comes amid growing signs that Portugal is quickly becoming an alternate choice for irregular migrants seeking to reach Europe.
According to reports, the increasing shift towards Portugal is directly linked to Morocco’s success in curbing migrants’ attempts to reach Europe through Spain, which has long been the traditional route of waves of irregular migrants in recent years.
Since December 2019, at least 69 irregular migrants have reached the Algarve region in southern Portugal from the Moroccan city of El Jadida, according to Portuguese authorities.
The number is close to insignificant when compared to figures Spain and Italy reported in recent months and years. Portugal worries, however, that more people may turn to the new Portuguese route and make the southern European country a popular choice among irregular migrants.
Antonio Silva Ribeiro, Portugal’s Army Chief of Staff, told local media in December that the country was “paying close attention” to the new trend.
He said that Portugal was already aware of the fact it was becoming a possible migration route. He argued that migrating through Spain is almost the same as choosing Portugal, saying, “It is not that different to go through Spain or Algarve. It is just a matter of choice.”