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.