The Maritime Safety Agency is regularly called upon to pick up migrants. | Archive

The Spanish government's delegate in the Balearics, Aina Calvo, said on Wednesday that there is a "controlled situation" regarding the arrival of migrant boats from Algeria.

This was against the background of seven boats with 149 people having arrived over a fifteen-hour period between 10.30 on Tuesday night and 1.30`on Wednesday afternoon. Since Christmas Day, there have been 251 migrants in all. Calvo recognised that the number was significant but added that it has been "one of those periods of concentrated arrivals that have occurred previously".

She recalled that migrants who can't be returned to Algeria because of an "interruption" to the repatriation agreement with the Algerian government "continue their migratory cycle, normally to France or Belgium". Their detention in Mallorca can last no longer than 72 hours. They are then released and usually go to the mainland. Accompanied minors and their parents are attended to by the humanitarian care system. In the case of unaccompanied minors, they are placed in the care of island councils.

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Calvo stressed that migration is "the oldest strategy of humanity" for those who cannot find a decent livelihood in their own countries and emphasised the need for these movements of people to be orderly and safe. In this regard, she highlighted legal changes made by the Spanish government to facilitate the "regularisation" of underage migrants once they reach the age of majority and of migrants who have job training.

Close to the end of 2022, 171 boats with 2,529 migrants have so far arrived in the Balearics. Calvo anticipates that the final number will be around 2,600.

In 2021 there were 2,402, almost a thousand more than in 2020, a year in which there was a 180% increase compared to 2019. The government delegate said that the "growth trend has slowed down", despite the numbers representing a "challenge". One development that has eased the management of the flow of migrants, she noted, has been the creation of the processing centre in Son Tous, Palma, which has capacity for around 150 people.