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Human rights group vents anger as drownings on Spanish route doubles in two years 

PAGE 20 HUMAN

Human rights campaigners are calling for a “180 degrees turn” after new figures show the number of illegal migrants who drown whilst trying to reach Spain’s coast has doubled.

The Andalusia Pro Human Rights Association says 295 people lost their lives “as a result of border closure policies” and has slammed the current measures as “clearly inhuman but also ineffective.”

The group wants a complete change of direction following publication of the latest figures which have doubled over the last two years.

“Despite all the measures taken and the multimillion dollar investments made, the migration policies undertaken by Spain and the EU are a clear failure,” says the APDHA. “These measures are not only clearly inhuman but also ineffective, so a 180-degree turn towards more humane policies and respect for human rights is necessary. “

The campaigners say the distressing scenes of the bodies of drowned migrants washing up on the Spanish beaches has to be stopped.

Comparing the latest toll of arrivals to Spain with those in 2010, the number has virtually tripled.

“The trend is clearly exemplified in the last month of January, when the number of arrivals multiplied by three compared to January of last year (1,289 in 2017, compared to 402 in 2016),” said a spokesman.

The Human Rights Association says it realises the flow of migrants to Spain is low when compared to those heading for Italy and Greece.

Migration through Spain’s southern border accounts for only seven per cent of arrivals in Europe via the Balkans, Central Mediterranean or Eastern Mediterranean route, according to data published by the International Organisation of Migration.

However, the increase experienced in the flow of arrivals to Spain is also confirmed by the sea route, which has grown almost 40 per cent compared to 2015. In the case of Andalusia, the situation went from 3,736 arrivals in 2015 to 6,508 in 2016. In terms of areas, the highest number of arrivals is recorded in Almeria, follow-ed by Granada and Cadiz.

Although the number of people arriving in Almería is higher than in Cádiz, the number of boats is higher in Cadiz than in Almeria, because smaller boats are used with about ten people on average. In Almeria, however, the average person per boat is 21 and this figure reaches 31 in Granada and 41 in Malaga.

Only on the Canary Island route has there been a slight decline from 875 to 710 due in part – according to Frontex – to the agreements with Morocco, Mauritania and Senegal, but also as a result of the disappearance of more than 160 people who left the Sahara and Mauritania.

Like Samuel, the four-year-old whose body appeared recently in Barbate, a total of 295 people lost their lives trying to reach Spain. Most were sub-Saharan and disappeared when they left the Sahara, Mauritania or in the Mediterranean Sea (Alboran).

APDHA says the migrants are trying to escape the misery of war and has attacked the policies of building walls and fences to keep them out.

“The current policy not only causes much suffering and causes many deaths, but is also ineffective from the point of view of the objective it aims to achieve: The legal and orderly regulation of migratory flows, ” says the group. “Offering legal and safe routes is a moral obligation, a humanitarian duty and a democratic requirement.”