Morocco and Spain have agreed to strengthen their joint fight against illegal migration from North Africa, a day after Morocco’s King Mohammed VI said that his country lacked the means to control the numbers leaving its shores for Europe. Mohammed assured Spanish King Juan Carlos, who is currently on a visit to Morocco, that his country would be tightening up on illegal immigrants making their way to the Canary Islands.
King Mohammed has already hailed an improvement in relations with Spain since the Socialists replaced the Conservatives in government nine months ago. The issue of immigration is an important one for Spain with hundreds of African migrants dying each year as they cross the straights of Gibralter in flimsy boats.
The former Spanish territory of Western Sahara, invaded by Morocco in 1975, is another question Spain would like to see resolved. A UN brokered referendum on the future of the territory is yet to take place. Immigration, however, looks like the issue on which there will likely be most movement. Already the two countries are carrying out joint patrols.
This week EU ministers will discuss the processing of asylum seekers outside the bloc – one suggestion being to set up centres in North Africa. Another important and thousands more are rounded up by Spanish police.