By Dave Sewell
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European Union crackdown drives refugees to Spain on new dangerous sea route

This article is over 6 years, 9 months old
Issue 2567
Amateur video shows refugees landing on a beach near Cadiz, southern Spain, last week
Amateur video shows refugees landing on a beach near Cadiz, southern Spain, last week

The number of refugees crossing the sea to Spain has tripled in a year and could soon overtake the number reaching Greece.

Some 8,385 refugees have arrived this way in 2017 so far, the International Organisation for Migration announced last week, up from 2,476 during the same period last year.

There have also been 121 deaths on the way to Spain so far this year, compared to 97 for the whole of last year.

Heavy policing and coastguard patrols had made it harder to cross the Straits of Gibraltar between Morocco and Spain in recent years.

This meant most arrivals to Spain were by the long route from Mauritania to the Canary Isles.

But tightening restrictions by the Italian government on refugees crossing there from North Africa has led many more to attempt to reach Spain by the Mediterranean instead.

Recent months have seen repeated reports of packed boats landing on beaches.

Every clampdown on refugee boats has been sold as an attempt to stop the drownings. It has only driven people elsewhere, often into even more danger.

The only real solution is to open the borders and provide safe, legal passage.

The right wing Spanish government is no friend of refugees.

But the Spanish state has also seen a powerful refugee solidarity movement with volunteering, mass protests and direct action to stop deportation flights.

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