RABAT (Reuters) - Spain has asked the European Union to increase the financial aid allocated to Morocco to help it counter illegal migration flows, Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said on Monday.
“Morocco is helping us,” Borrel told a news conference during a visit to Rabat, adding that such aid should not be considered as a gift to the North African country as the pressure of illegal migration grew in the Western Mediterranean.
He said aid should be increased beyond that already agreed. The EU promised last year to give 140 million euros ($160 million) in border management aid to help Morocco curb migration flows. Some 30 million euros was disbursed earlier this year.
Morocco is expected to receive half of that aid in budgetary support by the end of July, while the other half would come in the form of donated equipment, according to Moroccan officials.
So far this year, Morocco stopped 30,000 people from illegally crossing to Spain and busted 60 migrant trafficking networks, Morocco’s foreign minister Nasser Bourita said.
In the first five months of this year, 7,876 migrants arrived in Spain by sea, 3% less compared to the same period last year, according to International Organization for Migration (IOM) statistics. IOM figures for last month showed a 67% drop in sea arrivals to 1,160 people compared with May 2018.
Some 310 migrants entered Spain so far this year by jumping the fence into Ceuta and Melilla, two small Spanish enclaves on Morocco’s north coast.
Some 57,000 people arrived illegally in Spain in 2018. Morocco said it prevented 89,000 migrants from setting out for Europe last year.
Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi; Editing by Frances Kerry