This is the record number of deaths and disappearances at the southern border since 1988 when the first registers were documented.

A total of 58,267 people entered the Spanish state irregularly through its southern border, an increase of 40% compared to the registers of 2022.

“80% of the deaths and disappearances occurred on the Canary Islands route, which is the most dangerous and, after the agreements signed with Morocco, almost the only route available to migrants trying to reach Europe.

Today, the Andalusian Association for Human Rights (APDHA) presented its Migration Balance 2023, which shows a record number of deaths and disappearances in the entire historical series of data that the Andalusian organization works with. In total, at least 2,789 people died or disappeared forever while trying to reach Spain’s southern border. The Migratory Balance prepared by the APDHA each year is the result of the monitoring work carried out by the organization each year, in which it details the evolution of migratory flows and provides a detailed comparison with data from previous years. The APDHA’s migratory balance sheet is also a response to the lack of transparency on the part of the Ministry of the Interior and the government, which, despite their obligation to provide detailed data, repeatedly fail to do so and provide only minimal data, making invisible the people who lose their lives on the migratory journey.

Diego Boza Martínez, the general coordinator of APDHA, began his speech by lamenting that “2023 is a record year in terms of victims and disappearances”, since last year “a total of 2,789 people died or disappeared forever while trying to reach Europe through Spain’s southern border”. The APDHA coordinator explained that “in the last four years more than 8,000 people have died or disappeared, which represents 59% of the total number of deaths and disappearances registered since 1988”. Boza pointed out that “80% of the victims died trying to reach the Canary Islands, which is undoubtedly the most dangerous route”.

Ana Rosado, the coordinator of the APDHA report on the southern border, pointed out that “in 2023, 58,762 people entered Spain illegally”, noting that “most of them did so by sea”. Rosado explains that “the policy of externalizing the borders that the Spanish state maintains with Morocco has diverted the majority of migrants to the Canary Islands route, which is the most dangerous of all”. In this sense, “an average of 112 people have arrived in the Canary Islands every day, with the island of El Hierro receiving the most people in 2023, with a total of more than 14,000”. The increase in the Canary Islands route, explains the coordinator of the Southern Border Report, “has occurred because between 2018 and 2023 there has been a reduction of up to 93% in the Strait route, due to the agreements that the Spanish state has maintained with the neighboring country since 2019”.

Rosado has reported that “in 2023, 9,800 people will arrive irregularly in Andalusia, which represents 17% of the state’s total”. In this sense, the Alboran Sea route was the most used to reach the Andalusian coasts and Almeria was the province that received the most migrants, “2,000 more than the previous year”. In contrast, the provinces of Malaga and Granada together received around 1,100 people in 2023. In Cádiz, as the APDHA member points out, “only 1,879 people arrived in 2023, a decrease of 93% compared to the number of people who arrived in 2018”. The so-called Levante route, which leads to provinces such as Murcia, Alicante, or the Balearic Islands, “has also suffered a significant decline and accounts for less than 10% of the total number of people entering the Spanish state via its southern border”. There has also been a significant drop in arrivals, mainly by land, in the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla.

The coordinator of the APDHA’s Southern Border Report, Ana Rosado, explained that “despite the increase in arrivals compared to the previous year, it is not the highest ever, as in other years we have received more migrants” and regretted that this experience “has not helped us to implement a reception system that is dignified and respects human rights, with sufficient professional and material resources”. Rosado pointed out that “under the pretext of an emergency, the authorities are implementing measures that in most cases violate the rights of people who have risked their lives in the hope of reaching a safe place”.

Toché García, a member of the APDHA’s Migrations Department, wanted to express the organization’s concern about “the rise of racism”.