Moroccans are among the Top 10 smugglers detected by Frontex. 804 of them were identified in 2017 and 1,547 in the first two quarters of 2018, or 28% of the total number of smugglers (2,795). Morocco was ranked second behind France and ahead of Pakistan, Albania and Syria.
Tunisian, Spanish, Chinese and other smugglers occupy the bottom of the table contained in the Frontex report covering the first two quarters of 2018.
This document from the European Agency for the Surveillance of the External Borders of the EU states that smugglers of all nationalities are formed into clandestine networks and operate in countries of origin, transit and reception. These networks connected to each other, who transport themselves in a period of time not exceeding a week, irregular migrants from their countries of origin in Africa to Morocco first and then to Spain thereafter.
In the first six months of 2018, Frontex has seen a greater reliance on Zodiacs, which are considered faster and able to carry more candidates for migration than for inflatable boats. In 2017, the average number of candidates per boat was 28 before reaching 38 in the first half of 2018.
Frontex also found that the airway is no longer used to reach Morocco in place of traditional routes. According to several arrested migration candidates, the airway remains faster and safer than the dangerous and longer land route. Air travel allows direct transit from countries of origin via Casablanca before a quick trip to the departure areas of Tangier and Nador.
In some cases, migrants opt for a stopover flight in Mauritania, Algeria or Tunisia rather than a direct flight from their home country to Casablanca to save money or to camouflage the real purpose of their trip pretending, once arrived in Morocco, to be mere tourists.
Migrants who have less money continue to travel by land. Often, they work temporarily throughout their migratory journey to earn enough money to continue their journey to Spain. Sometimes these migrants are subjected to inhumane treatment by smugglers (torture, rape and abduction).
The Frontex report also revealed that more than 10,000 arrests were made on the West Mediterranean Sea route during the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 165% in the migration flow over the same period of time in 2017 and 470% compared to 2016.
In April 2018, more than 1,200 irregular migrants were apprehended before their number tripled. It rose from almost 3,600 people in May to 6,000 in June, or 52% of the total number of irregular migrants detected in the Mediterranean Sea in the same period.
Several factors overlap to explain the current increase in migratory pressure on the western Mediterranean route. First, there is the fact that many irregular migrants consider it more secure and faster. Then, Morocco is considered a more stable country and its route is considered more accessible and affordable than the Libyan road. And finally, there is a possibility for these people to access Morocco without a visa, explains the report.
A comparison of the 2018 data for the Mediterranean routes shows an increase in the number of arrests made against them against a decrease in the central route.
In this respect, the Frontex report states that it is still too early to suggest a transfer of migratory flows from the central Mediterranean route to that of the western Mediterranean. However, it highlights the sharp increase in the number of Malian migrants detected on the western Mediterranean route who traditionally use the central route as well as the emergence and growth of migrants carrying certain nationalities (Bangladesh, Senegal or Nigeria) and who usually used Libya as a starting point for their journey.
Guineans are also among the irregular migrants who use this road, which leads to an overall increase of sub-Saharans who use the western Mediterranean route.
Regarding Moroccans, the report noted that the latter only represent 19% of the flows and specifies that the share of unaccompanied minors has reached 36% of this total. Of the 723 Moroccan miners, many are believed to have been sent by their families, says the report.
In addition, the Frontex document noted that during the months of April and May 2018, most of the arrests of the candidates for migration took place in Granada before a change took place from June 2018 onwards. with the displacement of the migratory flow towards Cadiz which became the most affected operational zone. Frontex recorded the arrest of 5,163 irregular migrants in Granada and 4,779 in Cadiz.
In the case of the land route, illegal border crossings decreased by almost 65% in the second quarter of 2018 compared with the same quarter of 2017. However, migratory pressure remains high, as evidenced by attempts to cross the border. barrier separating the occupied president of Sebta from the rest of Morocco. Which were operated by more than 600 migrants in July and nearly 200 in August 2018, the report concluded.