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Country analysis

Spain


In 2023, over 57,000 undocumented migrants and asylum seekers arrived in Spain via the Western Mediterranean route, nearly 91% more than the 29,900 in 2022. While most of the previous arrivals occurred in the southern region of Andalusia, where the crossing from Morocco is much shorter, the Canary Islands are currently receiving the highest number of sea arrivals. Melilla is also witnessing attempts to rush the border fence, where undocumented migrants and asylum seekers often face border guards' excessive use of force. The migration journey through the Mediterranean Sea is among the most dangerous. Migrant boats often capsize, and people can remain stranded at sea awaiting rescue. In Spain, people's attempts to climb border fences have resulted in deaths. The number of dead or missing migrants and asylum seekers crossing through the Western Mediterranean route reached nearly 1,150 in 2023, slightly less than in 2022.

Over 163,200 people applied for asylum in Spain in 2023 – 37% more than in 2022. Nearly 37% of the applicants were from Venezuela, while 33% were from Colombia. Madrid province registered the highest number of applications (33%), followed by Malaga (7%). Humanitarian needs include medical attention, protection, registration assistance, and community engagement services. (UNHCR accessed 02/04/2024, UNHCR 19/01/2024, MMC 25/10/2023, IM 03/07/2023, TBP 15/05/2023)

In 2023, over 57,000 undocumented migrants and asylum seekers arrived in Spain via the Western Mediterranean route, nearly 91% more than the 29,900 in 2022. While most of the previous arrivals occurred in the southern region of Andalusia, where the crossing from Morocco is much shorter, the Canary Islands are currently receiving the highest number of sea arrivals. Melilla is also witnessing attempts to rush the border fence, where undocumented migrants and asylum seekers often face border guards' excessive use of force. The migration journey through the Mediterranean Sea is among the most dangerous. Migrant boats often capsize, and people can remain stranded at sea awaiting rescue. In Spain, people's attempts to climb border fences have resulted in deaths. The number of dead or missing migrants and asylum seekers crossing through the Western Mediterranean route reached nearly 1,150 in 2023, slightly less than in 2022.

Over 163,200 people applied for asylum in Spain in 2023 – 37% more than in 2022. Nearly 37% of the applicants were from Venezuela, while 33% were from Colombia. Madrid province registered the highest number of applications (33%), followed by Malaga (7%). Humanitarian needs include medical attention, protection, registration assistance, and community engagement services. (UNHCR accessed 02/04/2024, UNHCR 19/01/2024, MMC 25/10/2023, IM 03/07/2023, TBP 15/05/2023)

Latest updates on country situation

07 February 2024

Over 57,000 undocumented migrants and asylum seekers arrived in Spain in 2023 via the Western Mediterranean route, 91% more than in 2022. Many transited through Morocco and Algeria from Sub-Saharan Africa. In the same year, the number of dead or missing migrants and asylum seekers reached nearly 1,150, slightly less than in 2022. The migration journey continues to be difficult, putting people’s lives at risk. Boats often capsize, or people remain stranded at sea awaiting rescue. Upon arrival, migrants and asylum seekers often rush the border fence at Melilla and face border guards’ excessive use of force and interception and detention by Moroccan authorities. In 2023, Morocco intercepted nearly 87,000 migrants and asylum seekers. Documented needs include medical attention, protection, registration assistance, and community engagement services. (UNHCR accessed 02/04/2024, TBP 15/05/2023, IM 05/02/2024)

05 July 2023

Between 15 June and 1 July 2023, at least 90 migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers died while attempting to cross from Morocco to Canary Islands, Spain. As the weather improved in June, the migration movement over the Western Mediterranean route increased. About 2,600 migrants arrived in Spain that month alone, while 4,400 arrivals were recorded between January–May 2023. The majority of migrants are from Ethiopia, Gambia, Senegal, Sri Lanka, and Sudan, and they seek migration to escape insecurity and worsening economic conditions in their countries. The use of wooden or inflatable boats and overcrowding are some of the factors leading to more accidents in the Mediterranean. On 21 June, a lack of coordination between rescue teams in Spain and Morocco contributed to the delayed rescue of a boat that eventually capsized, killing at least 37 people. Generally, new arrivals to Spain need medical attention and registration assistance. (InfoMigrants 03/07/2023, BBC 23/06/2023, UNHCR 28/06/2023)

current crises
in Spain


These crises have been identified through the INFORM Severity Index, a tool for measuring and comparing the severity of humanitarian crises globally.

Read more about the Index

ESP002 - Mixed Migration

Last updated 29/01/2024


Drivers

Displacement

Crisis level

Country

Severity level

1.8 Low

Access constraints

0.0

REG008 - Western Mediterranean Route

Last updated 29/01/2024


Drivers


Crisis level

Regional

Severity level

2.7 Medium

Access constraints

1.0

Analysis products
on Spain

Humanitarian Response Plan 2022

07 April 2017

Humanitarian Response Plan 2022

DOCUMENT / PDF / 901 KB

ACAPS and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have produced a new set of Central and West Mediterranean migration scenarios, outlining possible developments in migration via Libya, Italy, Spain and other transit countries over the next six months.

Mixed migration
The Balkans: Asylum Seekers, Migrants, and Refugees in Transit

18 March 2016

The Balkans: Asylum Seekers, Migrants, and Refugees in Transit

DOCUMENT / PDF / 777 KB

As of 16 November, close to 820,000 people have arrived in Europe by sea in 2015. 85% of the arrivals are from the world’s top ten refugee-producing countries. As the sea route to Italy via North Africa is longer and more risky, and as the number of Syrians has increased, more people are travelling through Greece and then through the Balkans to reach northern and western Europe.

Mixed migration
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