Spain the new top destination for refugees

More refugees are now arriving in Spain than in the past twelve years, and the number has for the first time exceeded those arriving in Italy. The new head of Spain's conservative Popular Party, Pablo Casado, has accused the Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of luring millions of African refugees to the country with his do-gooder policy. Commentators rake Casado over the coals.

Open/close all quotes (ES) /

Fact checking exposes populist propaganda

Pablo Casado is distorting the facts, editor-in-chief Ignacio Escolar writes in

“No one has said anything about 'giving them all papers' and we are not facing the problem of 'millions of Africans' coming to Spain. So far this year around 24,000 immigrants have arrived in Spain by sea or by crossing the borders in Ceuta and Melilla. ... And the rise in migration from Africa's coast to Spain began long before the Socialists came to power. The figures, which speak for themselves, started going up in 2013 and have jumped upwards since 2016, when the People's Party [which Casado now leads] was still in power.”

Público (PT) /

It's easy to boycott a solution

Politicians like Casado are fuelling populism, Público criticises:

“Such a tone signalises contempt for public debate and the community these politicians are supposed to serve. When careless demagogy drowns out the truth, democracy is in danger. ... If these politicians want to secure the borders they should first try to help build up a stronger, more efficient EU. Because the border in Melilla or on Sardinia's rugged coastline won't resolve the migration problem. They should start by making their own contribution towards establishing a truly European refugee policy - not boycotting every attempt in this direction. This, however, would require true statesmanship, and that isn't really in vogue in Europe right now.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Spain as a testing ground

For the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Spain now has the chance to try out new approaches in migration policy:

“As opposed to the right-wing populists in Italy, the minority government in Madrid believes in the EU, and can now show that it too wants a joint solution. Prime Minister Sánchez is very open to the idea also put forward by French President Emmanuel Macron of setting up 'closed centres' - which the Spaniard prefers to call 'safe havens'. There it could be determined as quickly as possible who needs protection and who doesn't. ... Thanks to the extensive funding that the EU Commission has earmarked for such centres, Spain could do things differently - and better - this time round, without becoming a huge waiting room like Greece did.”

ABC (ES) /

Madrid sending the wrong message

For ABC it's crystal clear who is responsible for the rising number of refugees in Spain:

“The government not only decided to take in the Aquarius, it also turned its arrival at the port in Valencia into a global exhibition of humanitarian goodness. ... At the same time it announced with great pomp and circumstance plans to guarantee universal healthcare for irregular migrants and to dismantle the Nato razor wire. ... It makes no sense to ask Morocco to stop immigration at the border fences if at the same time the Spanish government puts on a media circus with the arrival of the Aquarius and facilitates the mafias' trade by treating immigrants who arrive illegally in the same way it treats those who arrive legally.”

Wiener Zeitung (AT) /

Those who step in to help are punished

The growing number of refugees coming to Spain shows how quickly migrants and traffickers adjust to political circumstances, the Wiener Zeitung notes:

“Italy closes its ports as the world watches, Spain does the opposite - and in no time the number of illegal arrivals in Andalusia has skyrocketed. Italy's far right is making headway, and these developments only make it feel stronger. Spain's fragile left not only does not have a majority, but now also has another problem to boot. We are experiencing in real time a political dynamic in Europe that no one could wish for: those who help only do themselves harm, those who don't help are rewarded. That will have lasting consequences. Also in view of absolute migration numbers, which despite the fact that they are on the rise are still significantly below previous levels.”