Temporary migrant centre in Spain. | Efe

According to figures from the national Office for Asylum and Refugees (OAR), there were 1,614 requests for international protection in the Balearics in 2020. For the whole of Spain, the figure was 88,826. The number has risen sharply. In 2019 in the Balearics there were 884; 2018, 494; 2017, 207.

The OAR, which comes under the interior ministry, is the body in Spain that is responsible for requests for asylum and for recognition of refugee status. Last year, and regardless of the pandemic, Spain was one of the countries in Europe which had the highest number of requests.

Although illegal migration from and via Algeria attracts a great deal of attention, the highest numbers of asylum seekers are from South America - Colombia and Venezuela in particular. This was certainly the case in 2019, when there were 371 requests by Venezuelans and 365 by Colombians. From Central America, there were 39 requests by Nicaraguans. This year, the office notes that there have thus far been two requests by Afghanis.

The main reason for seeking protection (33% of cases) is political. Others include sexual orientation and belonging to specific social groups.

Nationally, the number of requests in 2020 decreased from a record 118,446 in 2019. Of the 2020 number (88,826), over 77,000 were by citizens of American countries. While there were requests from people from 111 countries in all, just under 80% were from five countries - Venezuela, Colombia, Honduras, Peru and Nicaragua.

In 2015 and 2016, there were high numbers of requests from people fleeing conflict - Syrians, Iraqis, Afghanis. But the numbers are now biased very much more to South and Central America.

Over the first six months of this year, the OAR had 77,360 requests.