Guardia Civil with a migrant boat. | Archive

Until recently, migrants arriving in Mallorca and the Balearics were all Algerian. While getting on for 90% continue to be Algerian, an increasing number are from countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. This is attributed to various factors, such as the rise of Islamism and inter-ethnic conflicts.

So far this year, 68 boats with 943 migrants have arrived in the Balearics. In 2019, there were 41 boats and 507 people. Victòria Avellà, of Creu Roja Balears (the Red Cross) recognises that there is a growing number each year. It has three reception places for migrants, Avellà explaining that despite the large number of arrivals, there is no overcrowding. Although it is the case that migrants are overwhelmingly Algerian men travelling alone, she says that there has been an increase in the number of women with children.

After migrants are intercepted by the Guardia Civil and the Maritime Safety Agency, it is the Red Cross who carry out health checks. In principle, migrants are held in custody for a maximum of 72 hours by the National Police before repatriation procedures are initiated.

Avellà makes clear that the involvement of the Red Cross is purely humanitarian. Are some migrants genuine asylum seekers? "Although that's something we consider, it is not our job; it's up to the National Police." In this regard, however, the Red Cross does assess the degree of vulnerability of each immigrant. Information from questionnaires is passed to the police.

The majority of migrants arrive without a change of clothes, documentation or money. The Red Cross assists, therefore, in providing basic necessities.