Morocco slows down the rate of illegal migration into Spain, border control chief says

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Morocco has managed to lower the rate of illegal migration into Spain in the last couple of months, according to numbers made public by the Kingdom’s migration and border control chief Khalid Zerouali.

Speaking to British news agency Reuters, Zerouali revealed, Friday, that after January, a month during which most of illegal migration crossings took place, the rate of arrivals in Spain through Morocco dwindled significantly.

The government's efforts were behind this decline, Zerouali said, adding that Morocco succeeded in preventing 25,000 illegal crossings so far. «The measures taken by Morocco led to stemming the migration flow to Spain», Zerouali told Reuters.

In March, similar trends were communicated by American news agency Associated Press (AP), which reported that Spain has managed to stop an overwhelming surge in illegal immigration after joining efforts with Morocco.

Quoting an internal European Union report, AP revealed that sea arrivals dropped in February, indicating that the country’s «intensified efforts to stop the migrants before they're able to reach European waters are paying off».

«In the last four months, the increased cooperation between Spanish and Moroccan authorities has significantly contributed to decrease the illegal migratory flows towards Spain», wrote AP, quoting the report which was handed to EU member nations in March.

According to the same source, the EU document did not explain how Morocco «held back migrants».

Speaking to the American news agency, the EU office dealing with relations with neighboring countries said that the European Union «has spent 232 million euros ($262 million) on migration-related projects with Morocco since 2014, mostly in border control and fighting smugglers», which included the 140 million-euro border management package granted to Rabat last year.

Meanwhile, the Spanish Interior Ministry told the same source in a written response that cooperation with Morocco helped decrease the number of migrant arrivals in Spain. The Ministry also said that Spain has given 75 vehicles to Moroccan authorities to control its borders.

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