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10 August 2017

Migrant crisis: Spain could overtake Greece in sea arrivals

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Media captionA boat full of migrants lands at a popular tourist beach in southern Spain.

Spain may overtake Greece this year in numbers of migrants arriving clandestinely by sea, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says.

So far in 2017, 8,385 people have reached the country by sea, more than triple the number seen at the same time in 2016. Greece has had 11,713 people.

The shift may be because migrants are finding the Spanish route safer.

Meanwhile, 10 men from sub-Saharan Africa were rescued off the coast of Spain.

The coastguard said they were on a rickety boat off the southern town of Tarifa, in Cádiz province, where a boat full of migrants landed at a popular tourist beach on Wednesday, stunning tourists.

Despite seeing an increase in arrivals, Spain is still far behind Italy, which has received 96,861 until 9 August, according to the IOM.

“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,” Joel Millman, a senior IOM spokesman, was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

Many of those opting for the longer route are from west African countries including Senegal, Gambia, Guinea and Ivory Coast.

Some 11,849 people have arrived in Spain so far this year, compared to 13,246 in all of last year, the IOM says.

According to AFP, nine of the 30 or so migrants who arrived on the beach on Wednesday had been found.

They are all minors in their teens and, while they did not have any ID on them, are thought to be from Morocco, police were quoted as saying .

They will be taken to migrant reception centres, where they can apply for asylum in Spain, AFP adds.

A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.

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