Illegal migration by sea down in 2022 but land border crossings soar

Interior Ministry statistics show that the arrival of undocumented migrants in Spain fell by 25 per cent overall but that border crossings in Ceuta and Melilla grew by more than 24 per cent

MELCHOR SÁIZ-PARDO MADRID.

Illegal migration into Spain fell by 25.6% in 2022, from 41,945 entries in 2021 to 31,219 in 2022, the Ministry of the Interior said in a statement on Tuesday 3 January.

The Ministry said that "arrivals by sea fell across the board on the coasts of the peninsula, Ceuta, the Balearic and Canary Islands, both in terms of the number of migrants and the number of boats".

However, land entries to Ceuta and Melilla soared during the last twelve months despite promises to reinforce both perimeters after these were repeatedly breached, notably on 24 June when between 23 and 72 immigrants died at the Barrio Chino crossing in Melilla.

The number of people arriving by sea fell by 27.9%, which represents a reduction of 11,170 people compared to the previous year. The number of boats recorded fell by 445, or 20.7%.

The most significant decrease occurred in the Canary Islands. On the so-called 'cayuco route', with departures from the coasts of Western Sahara, Mauritania and Senegal, the number of illegal migrants fell by 6,634, from 22,316 to 15,682, a decrease of 29.7% in 2021. The number of boats recorded fell by 35.4%, 192 fewer than in 2021.

"The progressive decline in [illegal] migration, which is decreasing for the second consecutive year and for the third time in four years, is supported by the migration policy promoted by the Interior in this period, promoting cooperation with the countries of origin and transit of migration and strengthening the fight against the mafias that traffic in people," the ministry said in the statement.

However, there was no mention of the difficulty in preventing the fence breaches in Ceuta and Melilla. The number of undocumented migrants who managed to cross these fences last year increased by 24.1%, from 1,845 to 2,289, 444 more people than in the previous year.

The figures for Ceuta were particularly bad, with a 47% increase in illegal entries, from 753 in 2021 to 1,114 in the year just ended. In Melilla, the increase rose by 7.6%, from 1,092 to 1,175 people.