The Guardia Civil has successfully intercepted and rescued more than 3,000 individuals who were attempting to enter Melilla from Morocco by swimming irregularly throughout the first nine months of 2023, according to Europa Press.
These individuals were promptly transferred to Moroccan authorities, according to Arturo Ortega Navas, the head of the Melilla Command.
Navas commended the dedication of the Guardia Civil’s divers and rescue swimmers for their role in saving these 3,000 swimmers, ensuring their safe handover to Moroccan authorities over the course of this year.
Aside from these maritime operations, Navas also highlighted the Guardia Civil’s efforts to prevent young people from attempting to stow away on ships bound for the Spanish mainland.
The focus has particularly been on ferries that link Melilla with cities like Malaga, Almeria, and Motril in Granada.
Navas stressed that this work demands an extraordinary effort, effectively balancing humanitarian assistance with efforts to combat illegal immigration.
According to Navas, these and other actions related to irregular immigration are the result of the “daily, methodical, and exemplary work carried out by our personnel at the airport, the port, the Beni Enzar border crossing, and the land border separating Melilla from Morocco.”
Over the last five years, Moroccan authorities have successfully prevented 366.000 attempts at migration to Europe and disrupted more than 1500 networks involved in trafficking migrants, according to data from the Ministry of Interior.
Up to May 2023, the ministry reported dismantling at least 117 migration networks, along with the prevention of 25.519 irregular migration attempts to Europe.
Migration remains a burning issue at the forefront of discussions between Morocco and the EU. The latter has provided 234 million euros for migration cooperation with Morocco since 2015, with 77% of these funds dedicated to border management. An additional 150 million euros has been designated for the period spanning 2022-2026.
In February 2023, Spain and Morocco have also declared an enhanced collaboration, with a focus on combating irregular migration and enhancing border control.