EU to grant Spain emergency aid to cope with migrants

EU to grant Spain emergency aid to cope with migrants
A rescue boat arrives in Malaga port. Photo: AFP
The European Commission will allocate tens of millions of euros to Spain to help it manage a rising flow of migrants arriving there illegally from Morocco, a European source said on Wednesday.

The socialist government of by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Sunday requested €30 million ($35 million) from a European fund especially earmarked for asylum and migration, the source told AFP.

The urgency of the situation in Spain has made it necessary to respond rapidly to the request, the source said, with the country's security forces and safety net overstretched.

Spain has overtaken Italy as a destination for migration as a crackdown by Libyan authorities has made it more difficult for migrants to reach Italian shores.


Migrants wait to be processed in Algeciras port. Photo: AFP

Close to 23,000 people have arrived by sea in Spain so far this year with 307 dying in the attempt, according to the International Organization for Migration — more than during all of last year.

Greece will also benefit from funding, which was requested by Athens a month ago to help manage arrivals at its border with Turkey.    

The asylum and migration fund is managed by the commission, the EU's executive arm, and is currently endowed with several hundred million euros.    

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was to speak to the Prime Minister Sanchez on the subject by telephone on Wednesday, the source said.    

EU funding is also planned for Morocco, a major country of departure for migrants headed to Spain. 

However, in a letter seen by AFP, Juncker warned Sanchez that given that many EU member states had not paid contributions promised to an emergency fund for Africa, resources for Morocco were limited for the time being.