Moroccan army units and law enforcement authorities arrested about 87,000 undocumented migrants in 2023, most of them from sub-Saharan Africa, the army’s General Command said on Wednesday.
The army said in a statement that the arrests were part of its efforts to monitor borders and maritime areas and combat cross-border threats. The statement also said that the army provided rescue and assistance to more than 22,000 migrants who were in distress on makeshift boats in Moroccan territorial waters in 2023. Morocco has become a transit country for African migrants who want to reach Europe for better living conditions. The army said it intercepted more than 1,100 migrants who tried to reach the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in northern Morocco on New Year’s Eve.
A new route that runs through the West African Atlantic coasts to the Spanish Canary Islands also attracted more migrants in 2023. The Spanish Commission for Refugees said migrant arrivals to the islands increased by 140 percent in 2023 compared to 2022.