The number of migrants arriving in Spain has tripled during 2017 compared to the same period last year, according to figures released Thursday by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
More than 11,800 migrants have arrived in Spain so far this year, compared to 13,246 throughout all of 2016. Almost 8,200 of them have arrived since April, which marks a threefold increase compared to the same months in 2016.
The trend indicates that Spain is well on its way to surpass Greece in the number of arrivals by sea by the end of the year. Greece has long been the primary European country for migrants, but IOM figures show a dramatic decrease from 176,906 arrivals in 2016 to 13,200 so far this year.
“We assume that some of the change is due to the fact that the route [to Spain] is considered a safe route up to the coast through Morocco,” IOM spokesman Joel Millman said, according to BBC.
Locals and tourists in the southern Spanish city of Cadiz were recently caught off guard when a boatload of migrants arrived on the beach.
Jose Maraver, the head of a rescue center in nearby Tarifa, told The Telegraph that similar events have become a common occurrence along the coast.
“Every day there are boats, every day there is migration,” Maraver said Thursday. “The situation is getting very complicated.”
Spain is still far behind Italy’s 96,861 arrivals through Aug. 9.
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