Spain's irregular migration increases 29% this year

9,317 irregular migrants arrive in Spain since Jan 1, says Interior Ministry.

Spain's irregular migration increases 29% this year

Irregular migration in Spain increased by 29% in three and a half months as 9,317 people have arrived in the country so far this year, the Interior Ministry said in a regular report on Monday.

Compared to the same period last year, the number of irregular migrants who entered Spain between Jan. 1 and April 15 rose by 2,093 arrivals, according to the report.

The number of those arriving by boat reached 8,145, while a total of 6,359 migrants made it to the Canary Islands -- an increase of 59.8% compared to last year.

Spain's two enclaves in northern Africa, Melilla and Ceuta, which received the most irregular migration to the country by land, got 1,172 migrants, or 756 people more year-on-year.

In 2021, 41,945 irregular migrants arrived in Spain, down from 42,097 in 2020, according to the data from the ministry.

In a bid to help prevent irregular migration, the Spanish government shifted its stance in mid-March and sided with Morocco regarding the status of Western Sahara.

This move also ended the diplomatic rift that broke out last year between Spain and Morocco when Madrid allowed the leader of Western Sahara's separatist Polisario Front to be treated in the country for COVID-19.

Shortly after, Moroccan authorities stood by while around 10,000 migrants crossed into Ceuta.

For decades, Spain had subscribed to the UN-backed view that Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, has the right to self-determination.

In a letter to Moroccan King Mohamed VI, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez endorsed Morocco's plan to have the region operate autonomously under Rabat's rule.