Spain sees significant drop in illegal immigrants in 2009 2009-08-16 10:44:51   Print

    MADRID, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- The number of illegal migrants trying to reach Spain dropped significantly in 2009 as the country intensified its coastal patrol and repatriations, Interior Ministry data showed on Friday.

    A total of 4,457 African illegal migrants reached Spanish coasts in the first seven months of 2009, down 40 percent from the same period last year and equaled almost a quarter of the number recorded in 2006.

    The Interior Ministry said stringent policies of border control and repatriation have held back many potential illegal immigrants.

    Spain's Canary Islands, which is located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa and often serves as the springboard for illegal immigrants to enter the European Union (EU), have seen a significant fall in illegal immigrants. In the first seven months of 2009, only 1,798 illegal migrants arrived in the islands, down 63.6 percent from 2008.

    In April and May this year, there were no single illegal immigrants setting foot on the Cannary islands, breaking a record held since 1999 that there had been illegal immigrants landing at the islands every month.

    Several countries in southeastern Europe including Spain and Italy are the prior destinations of African illegal migrants. They usually departed from coasts in Mauritania, Morocco and Algeria. Many of them died in the sea due to the rough conditions of boats and weather.

    To combat illegal immigrants, the EU set up special funds to help Spain, Italy and some other countries to strengthen coastal patrols.

    Spain has also signed contracts with Mauritania and some other countries which are sources of illegal immigrants in hopes of preventing illegal boats from setting sail.

    Once illegal immigrants are caught, identification and repatriation work can be done speedily with international cooperation.

Editor: Li Xianzhi
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