Number of Migrants Arriving in Spain Nearly Triples so far this Year

About20,000 migrants, including more than 1,500 children, arrived in Spain in the first four months of 2024, with 80% headed to the Canary Islands, making it the most heavily used migration route to Europe so far this year, Save the Children said. 

Even though migrant crossings to Spain usually decrease in winter, this year has seen a record number of arrivals, with a 190% increase compared to the same period last year, raising fears that the number will rise significantly over the summer months.

The surge in arrivals can be attributed to political and economic instability, hunger, and the escalating climate crisis, which are driving an increase in migration worldwide. According to the United Nations, 20 million people are forced to flee their homes annually due to extreme weather events, including prolonged droughts, torrential rains, and desertification.

About four in five migrants who arrived in Spain this year – almost 16,000 – travelled to the Canary Islands from West Africa. With the sea route from West Africa to the Canary Islands  highly dangerous,  an average of 16 fatalities per day were recorded in 2023, resulting in over 6,000 lives lost.

Bárbara González del Río, Migration Specialist at Save the Children Spain, said: “If over 1,500 migrant children have already arrived in Spain this year, we anticipate a significant increase in crossings during the summer months, potentially surpassing last year’s record influx of over 5,100 minors. As long as there is a need in the countries of origin, people will continue to move, and the migratory flow towards Europe will continue to exist.

“With over 5,700 migrant children already under guardianship in the Canary Islands, support systems are overwhelmed. Urgent action is needed from other communities to alleviate this critical situation. The Spanish government and autonomous communities must swiftly find solutions.

“We cannot forget that these children are fleeing conflict, hostile environments, and hunger. Our obligation to the children who arrive in our country is to care for them in a way that is adapted to their needs and to ensure that their rights are guaranteed.”

Save the Children is calling on the government of Spain to prioritise the protection and reception of migrant children by:

swiftly identifying vulnerable individuals, such as potential trafficking victims
ensuring unaccompanied minors are evenly disrupted between different communities to avoid overwhelming support systems
scaling up support systems for unaccompanied migrants to ensure their successful integration into society.

Save the Children Spain works in coordination with other organisations and local administrations to meet the specific needs of migrant children. Save the Children also provides safe places where young migrants who’ve gone through the protection system and have been left without the proper resources to transition to adult life, find a job, learn Spanish and continue studying if they wish to do so.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Save the Children.

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