The desire for a better life is blind to austerity and six million unemployed, and getting to Spain remains the dream of many people in Africa. Just when it looked like the numbers of people making their way across the Strait of Gibraltar hidden under trucks aboard ferries, or packed into children's inflatable dinghies was on the decline, they have shot up again.
Data for 2012 collected by the immigration authorities in the port of Algeciras - which is just 14 kilometers across from Morocco's northern coastline - show that more and more people are trying to make the crossing.
Helena Maleno has been working for the last 11 years for Caminando Fronteras, an NGO that helps migrants. "It is not difficult to buy an inflatable boat, even if the Moroccans have put the prices up."
This flimsy means of transport allows those seeking to make a new life in Spain to do so without paying the networks that control the crossings. "People know that these inflatable craft are fragile, but they have no money to pay the people traffickers, and the need to flee their countries leads them to put their lives at risk," Maleno explains.
The crisis affecting the whole of Africa is forcing many to look to Europe"
Typically, those making the crossing are men and women aged between 25 and 30, usually with a good education and able to speak up to three languages. They want to work, a better life, and to leave behind the famine and war that in many cases afflict their countries of origin.
"The crisis that has hit the whole of Africa, as well as wars in places such as Mali, is forcing many people to look to Europe," says Maleno, adding: "The pressure from the Moroccan police is tremendous. These people are hiding out in forests, begging, locked in safe houses, and living on rice and flour."
Juan Cisneros, the Algeciras district attorney, says he understands that despite the crisis in Spain, Africans still want to make the journey. "To a lot of people, our crisis is nothing," he notes.
The city's immigration department is run by José Luis Jaudenes, who says that in 2011 3,141 people were held in the Algeciras internment center. In 2012 that figure rose to 5,000. There has also been an increase in the number of minors, between 13 and 17 years old, who usually enter Spanish territory by hiding underneath trucks or buses.
Catching the people who organize the human traffic across the Strait is not easy
According to SIVE, the network of radar stations along the coast of Andalusia, there has been a fourfold increase in clandestine immigration in the first three months of 2013, compared to the previous year.
But the Algeciras immigration department says that finding and catching the people who organize much of the human traffic across the Strait is not easy, and this despite close cooperation with the Moroccan authorities.
The police say that the mafias take advantage of Spanish law, which allows pregnant women to stay, for example. The Spanish maritime authorities say that they have received calls from Moroccan territory informing them of vessels in trouble in Spanish waters.
But the noteworthy trend, say the Spanish authorities, is the number of people trying to make it across from Morocco on their own, or in small groups using inflatable dinghies that are meant for use in a swimming pool.
The Human Rights Association of Andalusia (APDHA) has been working with migrants for years, and says that 15 percent of those attempting to cross the Strait in 2012 used these kind of vessels; this year they make up 90 percent of crossings.