Wednesday

26th Jun 2019

EU states to help Spain fight immigration crisis

EU member states have agreed to help Spain to patrol the waters along the African coast in order to combat the increasing influx of illegal immigrants landing on the Canary Islands or on Spain's southern coastline.

Spain and eight other European countries agreed the initiative on Monday (29 May) after a meeting between representatives of the European Commission and the European Border Agency (FRONTEX) in Madrid.

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Austria, Finland, France, Italy, UK, the Netherlands, Germany and Greece are all to take part in the patrols.

Deputy prime minister Maria Teresa Fernandez De La Vega was reported as saying by the Spanish Herald that this is "a common policy on frontier control for the first time on the part of the European Union".

Spanish secretary of state for security Antonio Camacho said that the operation will go on "throughout the summer" and may continue into the autumn.

The operation will involve five patrol boats, five helicopters and an airplane which will attempt to reduce the number of boats sailing from Mauritania, Senegal and Cape Verde toward the southern part of Spain.

The Spanish Herald reports that half of the costs will be paid by the commission, with the rest of the costs still to be allocated.

More than 400 migrants landed on the Canary Islands last weekend while another 350 arrived in Spain in small boats on Monday. This year nearly 7,000 migrants have already landed on the islands. The number was around 4,750 in 2005 and just over 8,500 in 2004.

Malta and Italy are also set to face increased illegal immigration during the summer months.

A group of 24 illegal immigrants landed on the tiny island of Malta on Sunday – making it the fourth group of immigrants to be rescued since the warmer weather set in.

A group of 25 illegal immigrants from Sudan arrived on Wednesday and 23 Eritreans were brought in last week. On May 19, another group of 45, mostly Ethiopians, landed.

Meanwhile, more than 800 migrants landed on the southern Sicilian island of Lampedusa during the past ten days.

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