IMMIGRATION

Morocco admits “dysfunctions” led to huge influx of migrant boats to Spain

Spanish Interior Ministry to send 300 more officers to reinforce affected areas

A group of immigrants is treated by the Red Cross in Tarifa (Cádiz) after being rescued.
A group of immigrants is treated by the Red Cross in Tarifa (Cádiz) after being rescued.Paco Puentes

Morocco admitted on Wednesday that the huge influx of illegal African migrants from its territory across the sea to Spain over the last two days was the result of “dysfunctions that may have happened and that will be corrected very quickly.”

The country’s interior minister, Mohamed Hasad, also assured that he was in “regular” contact with his Spanish counterpart, Jorge Fernández Díaz.

Moroccan security forces resumed patrols along the country’s northern coast on Wednesday morning, say Spanish coastguard sources. The Rabat authorities had not been sending out police or navy patrol boats along the maritime border since Monday, according to Frontex, the European Union agency for external border security, a fact that has been blamed for the recent arrival of illegal African immigrants to the shores of Cádiz in the kind of numbers that have not been seen in several years. On Tuesday alone 920 people departed from Morocco in 94 small inflatable boats, according to the Efe news agency.

The control of immigration is vital. When there is thorough surveillance the situation is better”

The government’s delegate in Andalusia, Carmen Crespo, said the Spanish coastguard and security forces who picked up the migrants were “heroes, the only thing driving them is saving lives.”

Speaking to Cadena SER radio network on Wednesday morning, she added that there is a joint and permanent commission with the Moroccan police. “The control of immigration is vital,” she said. “When there is thorough surveillance the situation is better.”

As a result of the situation seen over the last two days, Spain’s Interior Ministry has decided to reinforce the police presence in Algeciras (Cádiz), and in Spain’s two North African exclaves, Ceuta and Melilla, with 300 more officers.

The ministry said it had “maintained close contact with the Moroccan authorities over recent days to find the fastest solution possible to resolve the situation,” attributing the influx to the recent good weather conditions alone.

Moroccan security forces continued to collaborate with rescuing immigrants in the Strait of Gibraltar and controlling illegal movements around the Ceuta and Melilla borders, said the ministry, without admitting the chaos seen in recent days.

Around 600 migrants in fresh attempt to jump Melilla fence

Toñy Ramos / EL PAÍS

Around 600 illegal immigrants, in two groups, made a fresh attempt to jump the security fence separating Morocco from the Spanish North African exclave of Melilla on Wednesday morning. At least five people who were injured in the run on the border were granted special permission to enter Spanish territory “on humanitarian grounds.” Four of them have since been moved to the local CETI temporary immigrant holding center after being taken to hospital by the Red Cross, while another remains there under observation, Europa Press reports.

A large group of immigrants had managed to reach the space between the two wire fences and clamber on top of one, but by around 3pm on Wednesday around half of them had climbed down exhausted, police sources said.

The new mass crossing attempt comes a day after 750 illegal immigrants, in three waves, tried to enter the Spanish exclave. Two occurred on Tuesday morning with a third around midday. Around 80 immigrants were successful, with around 50 making it over after spending several hours atop the fence.