Spain and Germany seek EU aid for Morocco over migrants

Spain and Germany seek EU aid for Morocco over migrantsThe leaders of Spain and Germany agreed Saturday to push for greater EU help for countries such as Morocco, a major point of departure for migrants and refugees trying to reach Europe. “Fourteen kilometres separate the coast of Spain — and therefore Europe — from those of North Africa but there is an infinitely greater distance in terms of development,” Spain’s new Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.


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Spain's overwhelmed coastguard says it can't cope with migrant influx, as 700 rescued in one morning

Spain's overwhelmed coastguard says it can't cope with migrant influx, as 700 rescued in one morningSpain’s coastguard union has warned the service was completely “overwhelmed” by surging numbers of migrant crossings, as more than 600 people were rescued from rafts in the Gibraltar Strait in just one morning. The union for Spain’s Maritime Rescue agency issued an urgent call for resources to help it cope with the “massive arrival of immigrants” on the country’s shores. Crew reinforcements were desperately needed to guarantee they could continue saving lives, it said in a statement.  The “extraordinary upturn” in arrivals had meant “an absolute overflow of work” for maritime rescue centres, many of which already had “insufficient” crew levels, it said.  The warning came as the Spanish coastguard pulled 774 people from 52 rafts in the Gibraltar Strait on Friday morning, bringing arrivals to more than 2000 this week alone. A further 125 people were rescued elsewhere in Spain, including the sea of Alborán, Murcia and Majorca. The country is now the largest gateway for migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Europe, with 20,992 people landing on its shores so far this year, according to the International Organisation for Migration. Arrivals to Italy now trail Spain by almost 3000 – a gap that just a week ago was 200. Mediterranean migration On Friday, the government announced an extra 30 million euros for agencies dealing with the migratory challenge. Magdalena Valerio, minister for work, migration and social security, called for help from the European Union and said Madrid was worried by Thursday’s events in Ceuta, one of Spain’s two outposts in Morocco, where more than 600 migrants forced their way through the border fence.  Two Civil Guard unions also called for urgent assistance in the face of what they said were increasingly well planned incursions into the two enclaves, Europe’s only land borders with Africa. Thursday’s forced entry was said by security forces to be of “unprecedented violence”, with the group throwing quicklime, stones and excrement to fend off officers. The Red Cross later said more than 130 people had required medical treatment.  Authorities and NGOs in Andalusia have been sounding the alarm over the surge in arrivals, noting that reception centres are saturated and migrants being forced to sleep in converted sports halls, on boats and in one case on a police station patio.  Both Spanish authorities and experts have blamed the increase on the crackdown on the central Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy, where the new populist government has barred NGO rescue ships from docking.  The decision of Spain’s new Socialist prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, to offer safe harbour to the NGO boat the Aquarius and its 630 rescued migrants in June was largely welcomed. But there are growing concerns that the Spanish asylum system, which NGOs describe as “collapsed”, is simply unequipped to cope. Migration was a key topic at Thursday’s meeting between Mr Sanchez and Emmanuel Macron, the French president, but there was little in the way of concrete proposals.  The mayor of Algeciras, the Gibraltar Strait port city, said on Thursday the area was in danger of becoming the “new Lampedusa”, referring to the Italian island in the Mediterranean that became a hotspot for migrant landings at the peak of the crisis.  José Ignacio Landaluce told El Mundo that European help was desperately needed, adding that arrivals were expected to rise further in August, the peak month for crossings. “It may be our problem initially, but tomorrow, or in a week’s time, or a month’s, it’ll be at the heart of Europe,” he said. 


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