MADRID – Stronger border controls in Turkey and Libya, together with instability in northern Morocco, are pushing record numbers of migrants and asylum-seekers to attempt a hazardous western Mediterranean Sea passage from North Africa to Europe.
The International Organization for Migration says 22,100 people washed up on Spanish shores in boats or were rescued off the country's coast in 2017. Their numbers increased sharply during the last three months of year, worrying observers about what's to come.
The trend comes as Libya and Turkey have worked to stop migrants from departing for Europe. The controls helped reduce the number of migrants arriving in Italy by one-third and by more than 70 percent in Greece last year, according to European border agency Frontex.
Spain's prime minister has called on the EU to increase migration funding to southern European countries.