Only 7885 migrants made it illegally to Spanish coasts this month, that is 70% less compared to same month last year, The UN migration agency IOM said.
The new trend came as a surprise to many observers who were expecting a surge in illegal arrivals to southern Spain from Morocco after Italy closed its ports and poured money on Libyan coast guard to prevent crossings.
Morocco’s efforts to fight illegal migration networks were recognized by the EU border agency, Frontex and the IOM as well as the European Union and Spain in particular.
The EU promised this year €140 million in aid to Morocco to fight illegal migration in addition to €30 million offered by Spain to help the north African country tackle migration flows.
In tandem with a drop in arrivals, Morocco registers a spectacular rise in foiled attempts as the country reinforces its border monitoring operations.
“It is true that in Spain, migration pressure abated, but from our side it surged,” head of migration and border control at the interior ministry Khalid Zerouali said last month.
New migration routes are being open in the South towards the Canary Islands as control intensifies in the North, Zerouali said.
Besides security measures to counter illegal migration, Morocco offered migrants opportunities to integrate the Moroccan society and access social services through a regularization campaign that has granted residency cards to more than 50,000 people.