Around 40,000 Migrants Arrive Illegally in Spain in 2021 So Far

Malian migrant "Mamadou", 21, who arrived in a boat in August 2020, is pictured in a 'boat cemetery' in Arinaga on November 18, 2021, on the Spanish Canary island of Gran Canaria. - For worried relatives, trying to find information about people without papers on a boat with no passenger …
LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images

Over 37,000 migrants arrived illegally on Spanish territory between January and mid-December of this year, with Moroccan police claiming to have arrested over 11,000 trying to make the journey.

A total of  37,385 migrants are believed to have crossed into Spain illegally from the start of the year, according to the Spanish Interior Ministry, which stated that most of the migrants entering the country have come from Morocco.

While the number is a slight decrease of 1.7 per cent compared to the same period last year, 2021 has been one of the most deadly migration years on record, with an estimated 1,025 migrants dying on their way to reach Spanish territory, the European Union-funded website InfoMigrants reports.

Statistics from the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR suggest that the number of migrants entering Spain this year could be even higher, stating that as of December 19th there were 41,203 arrivals, with the vast majority coming by sea.

The Canary Island has become the main target for migrants in 2021, with over 22,000 arrivals seen this year in the islands, popular with British expatriates and tourists.

This compares with just under 4,000 for the Spanish mainland and under 3,000 for Spain’s North African exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.

In October it was reported that the traffic on the Canary Island route had more than doubled though it is considered the most dangerous route to Spain, accounting for the vast majority of deaths.

According to the European Union border agency Frontex, illegal migration increased by 70 per cent in the first ten months of 2021 compared to the prior year.

The Western Balkans illegal migration route has seen even greater growth, according to the agency, with a 140 per cent increase in migrant traffic in the last year and an 840 per cent increase since 2019.

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


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