Spain will continue to be in 2019 the main gateway for immigrants to the European Union (EU), according to a report from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), presented today with the title "Desperate Travel."
The report analyzes arrivals of immigrants and refugees to the EU in 2018 and points out that "given the high number of arrivals by sea in the second half of 2018, it seems likely that Spain will continue to be the main entry point to Europe" next year, which will require "solidarity and efforts to improve reception conditions". That situation will also require ensuring "fair and efficient asylum procedures for those seeking international protection." The study highlights the general decline of migratory flows to the EU through the Mediterranean in the last twelve months (139,300, compared to 172,324 the previous year), despite the increase in the western route, that is, the one that arrives to Spain, where they increased by 131% in one year (from 28,300 in 2017 to 65,400 in 2018).
In addition, in 2018, 2,275 migrants who tried to reach European coasts died in the Mediterranean, that is, one out of every 51 people who made the crossing. There were 136 deaths in the land routes, compared to 75 the previous year. In Spain there was a significant increase in the number of deaths and disappearances at sea, from 202 in 2017 to 777 in 2018.
The report warns on the other hand that, as a result of the increased activity carried out by the Libyan coastguard, 85% of those rescued in Libyan territorial waters were landed in that country, where "they face arrest in terrible conditions." As a result of this situation, more boats loaded with migrants and refugees tried to go beyond Libyan waters and reach Malta and Italy, a trend that is expected to continue in 2019, according to the UN agency. The report also indicates that after the increase in arrivals by sea to Spain, In 2018 there was an increase in the number of people who crossed the border with France from Irún (Basque Country), mostly single men from French-speaking countries in West Africa who did not apply for asylum in Spain.
The UN Agency considers that these displacements pose important challenges, including the costs of a greater demand for national reception capacity and asylum systems and calls for measures to address the situation to include "more solidarity and support for the countries where it is located. the majority of refugees and asylum seekers. " In particular, he notes, "a mechanism is needed to relocate asylum-seekers from EU Member States who receive a disproportionate number of applications to other countries."
UNHCR recommends the use of "accelerated and simplified" procedures to quickly process asylum applications so that they have no chance to prosper as well as those that do, in order to assist people in need of international protection. The report includes other suggestions , such as the establishment of a coordinated response for rescues at sea and a greater distribution of responsibilities among the countries of the Union. This should include, points out, safe and predictable disembarkation points, more solidarity and support to the countries where the majority of immigrants and refugees arrive, as well as legal access routes and greater protection in particular of unaccompanied minors.