Spain reduces the 50% irregular migration, but it grows the way to the Canary islands

Spain has managed to reduce this year irregular migration to the middle after the highs of 2018. Brussels, which so turned on all the alarms, applauds now the b

Spain reduces the 50% irregular migration, but it grows the way to the Canary islands

Spain has managed to reduce this year irregular migration to the middle after the highs of 2018. Brussels, which so turned on all the alarms, applauds now the brake that has succeeded in imposing Madrid —from the hand of Rabat— on the southern border. Arrivals fall between 50% and 55% this year, with little more than 30,000 people (in the absence of the last days of the year) in front of the 64.300 2018, according to estimates of the Interior. The control in the Strait and the Alboran sea leads to the mafias to drift towards longer and more dangerous routes: the Canary islands recorded increases of 90%, which is still far in absolute figures of the crisis of the cayucos in 2006. Two boats with 52 people on board arrived on Saturday to Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura. All indications are that this may be the tonic in 2020.

The border between the banks north and south of the Mediterranean is the most unequal in the world: the difference of per capita income between Spain and Morocco is only comparable to that existing between the two Koreas. Europe managed to control the tide of refugees in 2015 to close the routes of the Central Mediterranean (Italy) and eastern (Greece), but the pressure then moved to the Spanish coast. The year that is about to be closed just with good numbers for that flank: “Spain has managed to reduce by half the irregular immigration”, it secures to THE COUNTRY the minister of Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, thus fulfilling a goal that seemed unreachable a few months ago. The EU applauds outright, that Madrid has managed to step on the brake pedal of the hand of Rabat both in the Strait and in the Alboran Sea. But the migration is a phenomenon of a liquid: the flood a pathway opens another. This time is the Canary islands.

Interior estimates fall between 50% and 55% in the absence of the last days of the year, above the target of 50% set a few months ago. But the pathway of the atlantic, through the Canary islands —the most dangerous due to the distance, and the currents, recorded increases of up to 90%, according to the same calculations: the archipelago may again become one of the gateways to Europe, as it was 15 years ago in the so-called crisis of the cayucos, 2006.

The data tell stories, but this is far from being alarming, at least for now; the absolute numbers are still high, around 2,500 people have reached the Canary islands this year, a far cry from the 31,000 in 2006. But it does show clearly how the flow is adapted rapidly to the control policies. “The figures are still low, due to the closure in the Strait and to the search of new pathways for part of the gangs,” explains Grande-Marlaska to put in context that turn of the script. It is a drip relentless: this Saturday, and two boats with 52 people arrived to Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura.

“The decrease of irregular entries is positive, but the migration is not going to stop,” warns the professor of the University of A Coruña, spain Antonio Izquierdo. “There is that offer legal ways: to sort the immigration,” he suggests. The increase in the Canary islands, it also highlights the lack of infrastructure in the host: “The next decade to the crisis of the cayucos resulted in the partial demolition of this capacity of response,” warns the professor of The Lagoon Dirk Godenau.

The pathway canaria means more changes: this assumes that migrants embark on boats with more risk coming from the south of Morocco and Mauritania and even Senegal and the Gambia. Earlier this month, a boat that departed from a small village in the Gambia, more than 2,000 kilometres of the archipelago, starred in the last big wreck after five days of crossing. Killed 65 people. The force of the atlantic flyway, has triggered the deaths by 300%; the 20 of December totaled 170 deceased. In total, according to the International Organization for Migration, 602 people have died or disappeared trying to reach the Spanish coasts. It is a 30% reduction of mortality with respect to 2108: the claims ratio does not fall at the same rate as the arrivals by the greatest danger of the route to the canary islands.

Spain had remained relatively unaffected by the challenge of migration that had an impact on their mediterranean neighbours in 2015, with more than a million refugees. The closure of the routes to Greece and Italy, following the agreements with Turkey and Libya, shifted the pressure to the western Mediterranean: in 2017, with the PP in Government, the Spanish road began to grow rapidly. And in 2018, Spain recorded a historic record of inputs; this ignited all the alarms in Brussels.

The Government of Pedro Sanchez are marked then as priority to reduce the inputs, multiplied the contacts with Morocco, and pressured the EU to get aid. This policy takes effect immediately; the change began to be felt in February, with the visit of Felipe VI to Rabat. Today, the partnership with Morocco is a priority for the EU: “The figures show that the moroccan authorities have committed to the migration,” features an internal report of the European Commission. “Rabat is a reliable partner, loyal and most important for Spain and the EU”, abounds Marlaska.

The joint effort affects the morale of those who are waiting to cross: “Now there is hope, in the future who knows”, is resigned Abdelgadar, syrian father 29-year-old trapped in Nador with the hope to move to Melilla. “Spain pay a lot to protect the border,” adds Know, a young yemeni who takes a year and a half stuck in Morocco.

Brussels has just renew its commitments to Rabat with a new aid package of 400 million, adding to funds already contributed by 140 million, over 32 million from Spain. On the table of the new Executive of the EU there is a Spanish request to set an annual item for Morocco. “Our goals are to maintain this control effort with the games available in the european budget 2021-2027, which have to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis —that collided with a force in Africa, and advance the borders, so that there are fewer immigrants trying to leave their countries for reasons of subsistence,” says Marlaska looking towards 2020.

The support to Morocco is also diplomatic: the european Parliament this year adopted the covenant fisheries Rabat including the waters of Western Sahara. And the Spanish authorities treat with caution any event affecting his partner. The Government has maintained a prudent silence in the face of the recent interruption on the part of Rabat to the porteo in Ceuta, one of the main economic engines of the city; before the close of the commercial custom on the border of Melilla; and before the delimitation unilaterally from its waters. The Executive, in addition, avoid disclosing information that annoys Morocco, as their national make up 28% of the exodus that leaves his territory, according to the numbers handled by the european agency for the management borders (Frontex).

“we Cannot lose the opportunity of rethinking the immigration policy, we can not maintain the same logical repressive,” says Lorenzo Gabrielli, of the Pompeu Fabra university. “Immigration is the new revolution: the most interesting of the migration debate is that it puts Europe faced with the dilemma of choosing between their interests and their values”, says analyst Ivan Krastev, in a dart poisoned, which also applies to Spain.

The other big challenge: airports

The other big challenge of Spain in the field of migration in 2019 is in the airports, the fate of the majority of the 112,000 asylum-seekers who have entered this year in the country —with data up to the 16 of December— a figure that doubles that of the end of last year. Spain is the third european country with more requests, just behind France and Germany, and one of the slowest in processing: there is more of 126,000 records by resolve.

the measures taken by the socialist Government to strengthen the Asylum Office and the national network of reception —they are at the limit of their capacity— promises to address this situation, but the experts call for a greater effort. “There have been gestures that point in the right direction, but may not stay in the provisionality,” warns Francesco Pasetti, a researcher at the think tank barcelona-based CIDOB foundation. “It will be important to the stability of the next Government because it will depend on the budgetary commitment in this area. But it is also vital that there is a political commitment firm: Spain cannot stay in the emergency responses in its asylum policy”.

Date Of Update: 29 December 2019, 00:00