EU aid sought for illegal migration in Morocco

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Spain wants the European Union to increase financial aid allocated to Morocco to help counter illegal migration flows, Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said.

“Morocco is helping us,” Borrel told a news conference during a visit to Rabat, adding aid should not be considered a gift to the North African country as the pressure of illegal migration grew in the Western Mediterranean.

He said aid should be increased beyond that already agreed. The EU promised last year to give 140 million euros (124 million pounds) in border management aid to help Morocco curb migration flows. Some 30 million euros was disbursed earlier this year.

Morocco is expected to receive half the aid in budgetary support by end July, while the other half would be donated equipment, according to Moroccan officials.

So far this year, Morocco stopped 30,000 people from illegally crossing to Spain and broke 60 migrant trafficking networks, Morocco’s foreign minister Nasser Bourita said.

In the first five months of this year, 7,876 migrants arrived in Spain by sea, three percent less than the same period last year, according to International Organisation for Migration (IOM) statistics. IOM figures for last month showed a 67% drop in sea arrivals to 1,160 people compared with May 2018.

Some 310 migrants entered Spain so far this year by jumping the fence into Ceuta and Melilla, small Spanish enclaves on Morocco’s north coast.

Some 57,000 people arrived illegally in Spain in 2018. Morocco said it prevented 89,000 migrants setting out for Europe last year.