[WATCH] Spain could overtake Greece in migrant sea arrivals, IOM says

Spain may overtake Greece this year in numbers of migrants arriving clandestinely by sea, the International Organisation for Migration said

11 August 2017, 7:59am
Migrants arrive on the Spanish coast as beachgoers watch
Migrants arrive on the Spanish coast as beachgoers watch
Spain could overtake Greece this year in the number of migrants arriving by sea, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said Thursday, using boats and even jet-skis.

On Wednesday afternoon, holidaymakers on a beach in southern Spain were stunned when a black rubber boat full of migrants reached the shore, its occupants jumping out and running away as scores of sun-worshippers looked on.

The footage, recorded in Playa de los Alemanes in Cádiz province, Spain, is a reminder of the large number of refugees and migrants making their way into Europe.

So far in 2017, 8,385 people have reached the country by sea, more than triple the number seen at the same time in 2016. Greece has had 11,713 people.

While the overall number of arrivals is down from this time last year, Spain saw a surge in migration in 2017. Earlier this week, the Spanish Red Cross said it had treated 186 migrants who stormed a border post at Ceuta, a Spanish enclave on the North African coast. They entered the heavily policed border area from Morocco and clashed with officers at the border. Thousands of migrants from sub-Saharan attempt the crossing each year in a bid to enter Europe.

Meanwhile, 10 men from sub-Saharan Africa were rescued from a rickety boat off Tarifa in southern Spain.

Despite seeing an increase in arrivals, Spain is still far behind Italy, which has received 96,861 until 9 August, according to the IOM.

The shift may be because migrants are finding the Spanish route safer.

"We assume that some of the change is due to the fact that the route [to Spain] is considered a safe route up to the coast through Morocco," Joel Millman, a senior IOM spokesman, was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

Many of those opting for the longer route are from west African countries including Senegal, Gambia, Guinea and Ivory Coast.

According to AFP, nine of the 30 or so migrants who arrived on the beach on Wednesday had been found.

They are all minors in their teens and, while they did not have any ID on them, are thought to be from Morocco, police were quoted as saying .

They will be taken to migrant reception centres, where they can apply for asylum in Spain, AFP added.