Increasing numbers of Moroccan and sub-Saharan migrants have been trying to enter Spain, either by sea in small makeshift boats or as part of larger groups crossing into the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in Morocco itself, a legacy of the former Spanish Empire, which are the only European enclaves in Africa.
Over 50,000, up from 7,000 in 2014, have arrived in Spain by sea alone this year and over 700 have died or went missing, according to official figures. Just nine miles separates the Morocco coastline from Spain, via the Strait of Gibraltar’s narrowest point. As a result of this recent influx, the anti-immigration nationalist Vox party won 12 seats in the Andalucian parliament earlier this month in a stunning electoral breakthrough. They are expected to build on those gains and win seats across Spain in the European elections next year.
Although migrant numbers from the Third World arriving into Europe have dropped recently – a record 1,015,078 were recorded in 2015, with more than 800,000 of them arriving in Greece from Turkey, Spain is now facing the bulk of the influx. The EU estimates there were already two million living illegally across Europe three years ago meaning the numbers will be much higher now. Over 20,000 have arrived in Greece this year with many of those who have arrived previously dispersed across Europe or living in rudimentary camps on five Greek islands, including the tourist resort of Lesbos.
Italy (over 650,000 Third World migrants since 2014) is still on the front line, along with Greece, Malta and other countries in south eastern Europe, such as Bulgaria and Croatia. And over one hundred illegal immigrants, mainly from Iran, have attempted to cross the English Channel from France since the beginning of November this year.
The top five countries providing the most migrants are Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. These are followed by Eritrea, Bangladesh, Somalia, Iran and various sub-Saharan African countries, including Mali and Cameroon.
Next year’s European elections are expected to see further gains by anti-migrant nationalist parties. And pro-migration governments, particularly in France, Germany, Belgium and Sweden, come under increasing pressure to put their own people first.
The BBC has a useful survey of the ongoing influx, now directed at Spain, with some useful facts and figures illustrating the scale of the invasion in 2018.