Sat | Jun 23, 2018

Illegal migrants a threat to islands

Published:Tuesday | September 4, 2012 | 12:00 AM


Authorities said 160 would-be migrants tried to break into a fenced-off Spanish enclave on the north African coast yesterday, and Spain's foreign minister worried more may head to Spanish islands near Morocco.

Officials said the migrants tried to breach two sections of the fence between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla early in the morning, with about 10 succeeding in entering Spanish territory.

A similar storming was thwarted Sunday, but 70 other illegal migrants, swimming or wading, managed to reach the uninhabited Spanish island of Isla de Tierra off Morocco.

Many migrants from Africa try dangerous crossings to reach Spanish territory illegally in hopes of gaining work and a better life, often turning to people-smuggling rings along the way.

But migration is a sensitive issue for Spain, especially now as it grapples with a double-dip recession and near 25 per cent unemployment after the collapse of a real estate bubble.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo said he had spoken with his Moroccan counterpart, Saadeddine El Othmani, to seek ways to avert a greater influx of migrants.