Illegal Migrant Arrivals up 51 Per Cent in Spain So Far in 2021

Subsaharian migants wait near the sea in the northern town of Fnideq as they attempt to cr
FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images

The number of illegal migrant arrivals in Spain from January to the end of September has increased by 51 per cent, according to figures released by the Spanish Ministry of the Interior.

The Spanish Interior Ministry has reported that in the first nine months of 2021, a total of 28,729 migrants have arrived illegally in Spanish territory, compared to 19,024 during the same period last year. In the month of January, 3,000 arrived, with that number almost tripling in September, which saw 8,451 arrivals.

Around 95 per cent of the arrivals have come to Spain by sea, either to the Spanish mainland or to the Canary Islands off the coast of West Africa, for a total of 27,136 migrants — a figure 65 per cent larger than in 2020, newspaper ABC reports.

According to the newspaper, of the three main routes that have contributed to the 51 per cent overall increase in arrivals, the Canary Islands route has seen the most growth, more than doubling from 6,124 to 13,118.

The Canaries route is also regarded as one of the most dangerous for migrants, with 785 of the just over 1,050 migrants who have died or gone missing on their way to Spain doing so en route to the islands, which are popular with British holidaymakers and expatriates.

There are several factors for the increase in arrivals, including relaxed coronavirus travel restrictions and a worsening economy in African countries like Morocco and Algeria.

When it comes to the known national origin of the migrants arriving in Spain, Algerians make up the largest share at 39 per cent, followed by Moroccans at 20 per cent, and Malians at 13 per cent.

However, ABC notes that the vast majority of illegals refuse to state their origin country — so that is is harder to deport them.

The illegal migration figures come as Spain has begun flying in Afghan migrants from Pakistan, with a flight from Islamabad arriving with 160 migrants on Wednesday following another flight that contained 84.

The Afghans arrived at the Torrejón airbase and add to the 2,206 Afghan nationals and Spanish nationals evacuated from the country since it fell to Taliban forces in August.

The operation to bring in Afghans from Pakistan comes after Spain’s populist VOX party vice president Jorge Buxadé warned of potential jhadist elements among the migrants, saying: “We must be very strict with the entry control of all those who intend to seek refuge or legal residence in Spain.”

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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