• Spain's news in English

Spain set for 'avalanche' of African immigrants

AFP/The Local · 13 Aug 2014, 08:57

Published: 13 Aug 2014 08:57 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The coast guard said it intercepted 78 small boats carrying 755 sub-Saharan Africans across the Strait of Gibraltar, part of a surge of migrants crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe's southern shores.

The migrants included 95 women and 20 children, the coast guard said in a Twitter message.

They all appeared to be in good health and were taken to Tarifa, Spain's southernmost port.

Spain's coast guard has picked up a total of 1,122 migrants in the Strait of Gibraltar since Saturday, including 299 on Monday.

Authorities blamed the rise in the number of migrants trying to cross the Strait on traffickers seeking to take advantage of calm summer seas and the end of the Islamic holy Ramadan month of fasting on July 28th.

"The exact same thing happened last year. After Ramadan there was a wave of migrants," the Spanish government's representative in Cadiz, Javier de Torre, told reporters.

"Mafia and organized crime groups dedicated to people smuggling take advantage of the good weather to carry out these sort of misdeeds."

The migrants were being temporarily sheltered in a municipal sports centre in Tarifa.

Spain's El País newspaper blamed the rising tide of would-be immigrants on lax policing by Moroccan authorities.

Morocco's police and coast guard were had not been on patrol since Monday, the daily said citing sources from within the European Union agency for external border security Frontex. 

Spanish police sources told El País that Moroccan authorities were probably turning a blind eye to the situation to alleviate migratory pressure in northern Moroccan cities like Tangiers.   

Spain's interior ministry will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday to look at a possible stepping up of border security, Spanish news agency Europa Press reported. 

Avalanche will continue

Local officials braced themselves for the arrival of more migrants.

"We don't know what is going to happen in the coming days but we know we are going to have good weather for at least three or four more days. With the little that we know we expect this avalanche will continue or even increase," said Tarifa Mayor Juan Andres Gil.

The Strait of Gibraltar separates Spain and Morocco by only 15 kilometres (nine miles), making it one of the key smuggling routes for illegal immigrants crossing into Europe.

Story continues below…

Italy has also faced a mounting influx of African migrants — the Italian navy rescued more than 2,000 migrants over the weekend from boats in the Mediterranean.

While many attempt to reach Europe by boat, a smaller number make a bid by land.

About 700 sub-Saharan African migrants used makeshift wooden ladders to try to scale over six-metre-high (20-foot) razor-wire barriers that separate Morocco from Melilla at dawn on Tuesday, local officials said.

About 30 managed to get through in the first wave. Another 50 were taken to an immigration detention centre. Three migrants were injured in the attempt.

Immigrants from all over Africa regularly try to enter the city, which is on the Mediterranean Sea, in the hope of achieving a better life in Europe.

Spain has beefed up border security in the two territories, which have the European Union's only land borders with Africa, since 15 migrants drowned in February while trying to swim to Ceuta, another Spanish exclave bordering Morocco, from a nearby beach.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.es)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Spain's 'Napflix' aims to bore viewers to sleep
Photo: Screengrab/ Napflix

A Spanish video platform called Napflix, designed to put people to sleep with dull content, was launched this week and its founders are on the lookout for more "monotony and repetition."

Recipe: How to make fabada - traditional Asturian bean stew
Photo: Flavio Lorenzo Sánchez/Flickr

The hearty Asturian dish is a perfect lunch on a cold day... and don't forget the crusty bread and cider!

Brit 'paedo' held on Costa del Sol after Most Wanted appeal

One of Britain's most wanted fugitives was arrested on the Costa Del Sol following a tip-off from an expat just hours after his face appeared on a public appeal.

Spain's parliament approves deficit reduction measures
Photo: Images Money/Flickr

Spanish lawmakers approved on Thursday measures to reduce the public deficit and keep it under the target agreed with the European Union.

'Cubism and War' show opens at Barcelona Picasso Museum
Pablo Picasso Harlequin and Woman with a Necklace. Photo: MP

Barcelona's Picasso Museum unveiled an exhibition on "Cubism and War" on Thursday depicting how one of the most influential artistic styles of the 20th century survived the First World War.

Why this bionic limb pioneer doesn't believe in disability
Hugh Herr has been award Spain's top science prize. Photo: FPA

The Local speaks to Hugh Herr on winning Spain's top science prize and how being an amputee doesn't make him disabled.

Dine in the buff at Spain's first nudist restaurant
A buffet of organic food will be served on "human tables". Photo: Innato / Facebook

Spain's first naked dining experience is to arrive on the island of Tenerife following the success of a similar venture in London.

Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Photo: AFP

Spain's Constitutional Court on Thursday cancelled a bullfighting ban in Catalonia in what is likely to exacerbate tensions between Madrid and the separatist region, and between animal activists and fans of the tradition.

Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Eta members made a ceasefire declaration in January, 2011. Photo: Gara / AFP

Five years after armed separatist group Eta declared a permanent ceasefire, Basque journalist Alberto Letona is still wondering when the dialogue will begin.

Hunt for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Call Crimestoppers if you recognize these faces.

These fugitives from British justice are thought to be hiding out in Spain. Do you recognize anyone?

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
Bison found decapitated on Valencia nature reserve
Forgotten Voices: What Brits in Spain think about Brexit
One dead and 14 injured in blast at Spanish resort
Game of Thrones want extras 'with muscles' to film in Spain
Thousands march in Madrid to push for bullfighting ban
jobs available