Algeria is closing its southern border to Syrian migrants, citing security concerns, while Spain has saw a record year for migrant arrivals in 2018.
The North African country is concerned that about the potential risks posed by former Syrian rebels — many of whom are affiliated with or have fought alongside Islamist factions — to their security, having undergone a period of bruising internal strife with jihadist groups itself in the 1990s.
“We have hosted 50,000 Syrians in the past few years for humanitarian reasons, but we cannot accept members of armed groups fleeing from Syria when it comes to our security,” said Hassen Kacimi, an interior ministry official with responsibility for migration, in comments to Reuters.
The Algerian said the authorities had expelled around a hundred Syrians travelling north from Mali and Niger by way of countries such as Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, and Sudan, using fake Sudanese passports.
“Definitely this is a criminal network and we must be very vigilant not to allow them [to get into] Algeria,” Kacimi warned.
The stance of Muslim-majority Algeria contrasts starkly with that of many Western governments, which is still keen to take in Syrians. Some are even making special arrangements for individuals claiming to be White Helmets volunteers to be brought in with their families, despite concerns about their true nature.
Illegal immigration to Europe has decreased as the EU’s expensive deal with the Turkish regime continues to stem the flow to Greece, and tough new measures against sea crossings introduced by Italy’s Matteo Salvini in the new anti-establishment coalition bear fruit — but controls remain lax in some quarters.
Spain, in particular, where the anti-borders Socialist Party has taken power without an election, has become something of an open door, with 57,250 illegal migrants having arrived in the country from the beginning of 2018 to December 26th, according to the UN Migration Agency/International Organization for Migration — an average of almost 160 per day.
A further 300 were landed in Spain on December 28th by the NGO migrant ferry Open Arms, which was invited to sail past a number of safe harbours in Africa to the port of Algericas after Italy and Malta refused to receive it.
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