Since the beginning of July there has been a surge in the number of irregular migrants entering the North African Spanish autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla. Over 200 migrants have entered Ceuta mostly by swimming or using small rafts to enter the territory from Morocco. Melilla has reportedly had approximately 207 migrants reach its territory during the same period. This is the largest number of irregular entries by sea in recent years, though the number is small compared to the events of 2005 when numerous migrants were able to traverse the border fences of the two cities.
The CETI (Centre for Temporary Stay of Immigrants) in Melilla is at roughly twice its capacity and is holding over 730 immigrants. The CETI in Ceuta has an official capacity of 512 and is now holding over 680 migrants. The three main political groups in Ceuta’s local government have called on the Spanish government to transfer migrants from Ceuta to the mainland in order to relief the overcrowding.
Francisco Javier Velázquez, the director general of the Spanish police and Civil Guard just completed a visit to Rabat to seek greater cooperation from Morocco in controlling the migratory flow towards the Spanish territories. Several media reports suggest that Moroccan authorities have reduced police and border guard patrols near the Spanish cities because they were deployed elsewhere in Morocco in response to the large demonstrations surrounding the referendum on the new Moroccan constitution. With the internal demonstrations becoming smaller and less frequent, Spanish authorities believe that the Moroccan border patrols will soon be restored.
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Spanish Secretary of State for Security, Antonio Camacho, travelled last week to Mauritania, Niger, and Mali to strengthen bilateral cooperation on illegal immigration and organised crime.
Spain and Mauritania agreed to strengthen their cooperation on immigration control and to expand cooperation to include efforts to combat drug smuggling using the same joint cooperation model currently being used for illegal migration. Camacho said Spain is committed to continue providing material resources to the Mauritanian security forces to “further improve the tools at their disposal to deal with security threats and to strengthen their border control mechanisms.” Camacho thanked Mauritania for its efforts to block illegal migration towards Spain and noted that only one boat (cayuco) reached the Canary Islands from Mauritania in 2010 and that no boats had so far reached the Canary Islands in 2011. Spain and Mauritania began their close cooperation on immigration control in March 2006.
While in Mauritania, Camacho visited the 50 members of the Spanish National Police and Civil Guard who are stationed in Nouadhibou as part of Spain’s extraterritorial immigration control measures.
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“…Según fuentes de la Guardia Civil consultadas por ABC, los agentes que se encargan de la vigilancia marítima en Alicante -un servicio mermado por las bajas- esperan que en la segunda quincena del mes de enero se produzca una auténtica «avalancha» de pateras lanzadas desde las costas de Argelia y Marruecos.
Dos factores explican el estado de alerta de la Guardia Civil. De un lado, la llegada de las primeras pateras del año a las costas de Motril y Cartagena, este fin de semana. Y de otro, el hecho de que a partir del 15 de enero empiecen las calmas en el mar Mediterráneo, que facilitan el tránsito de pateras desde el norte de África.
La certeza de la futura llegada de nuevas pateras a las costas alicantinas se conjuga, además, con la desalentadora realidad de que el SIVE, un sistema cuya implantación en Alicante -donde existen cuatro radares fijos y uno móvil conectados a la Comandancia de la Guardia Civil- ha costado 8,5 millones de euros, es incapaz de detectar la llegada de la mayoría de embarcaciones….”
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Click here for more information from la Guardia Civil y el Sistema Integrado de Vigilancia Exterior (SIVE)