According to an internal EU report obtained by The Associated Press Spain’s cooperation with Moroccan authorities contributed to a significant decrease in arrivals of migrants and refugees in Spain. NGOs raise concern about human rights violations.

Intensified cooperation between Spain and Morocco followed a doubling of arrivals in 2018 mainly through the Western Mediterranean route from Morocco and Algeria to Spain. In 2018, the EU granted 140 million Euros for border management to Morocco and 36 million euros in emergency assistance to Spain. From January to February 2019 arrivals in Spain dropped by 77% from 4,104 to 936 and keep going down, figures by the International Organisation for Migration show.

Civil society organisations raise concern that Morocco is taking repressive measures to stop people from reaching Spain. In September 2018, Amnesty International called the crackdown of Moroccan authorities on thousands of sub-Saharan migrants and refugees “cruel and unlawful”. In mid-March 2019, 45 died attempting to cross the Western Mediterranean from Morocco to Spain as they were waiting to be rescued by the Moroccan authorities who only intervened 24 hours after Spain received the first distress call.

The main union representing Spanish rescuers noted that the Maritime Rescue Service is increasingly instructed to wait and let the Moroccan Coast Guard assist migrant ships in distress, even though it “has few means and limited experience regarding rescuing human lives at sea ”, the Washington Post reports.

It is unclear how Sunday’s general elections will affect migration policy in the country. With 29% the socialist party PSOE is in the best position to form a government. The conservative party PP experienced a historical loss with 17% ceding many votes to the ultra-nationalist and anti-immigration Vox party, which enters the parliament for the first time with 10%.

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Photo: (CC) goldiekatsu, September 2007

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin . You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.