Spain’s migrant flux surged in 2023

Lords don’t stop illegal migration bill

A small boat full of migrants. Credit: AlejandroCarnicero/

In total, 50,551 migrants have arrived in Spain in 2023 by sea and land, 73 per cent more than in the same period in 2022, when a total of 29,223 people arrived. 

Main point of entry

Of these, 49,376 migrants have arrived by boat in Spain in 2023 so far, an increase of 22,293 from the same period in 2022. Of the water arrivals, 35,410 arrived in the Canary Islands. 

These numbers represent a 134 per cent increase in arrivals to the Canaries compared to 2022, according to data released by the Ministry of the Interior. This shatters the 2006 record, when a total of 31,678 undocumented migrants arrived in the Canaries. 

The total number of boats to arrive in the Canaries has reached 530, 194 more than in 2022, when there were 336. There have been 13,726 arrivals by boat through routes other than the Canaries, an increase of 1,999 from 2022. 

Some violence

However, the data looks different depending on the region. In the enclave of Melilla on the North African coast, where clashes between Spanish police and migrants attempting to enter the city’s walls have turned violent in recent years, the number of land arrivals decreased in 2023 to only 155. The dip is significant, as in 2022 1,171 people arrived in Melilla, representing an 86.8 per cent decrease. For water entries, the data stands at 180 in Melilla, 18.4 per cent more than last year, and 60 in Ceuta, nearly half of 2022’s 122 water arrivals. 

The data comes amid a series of migrant rescue incidents last month. On November 4t, more than 500 people were rescued by the Spanish coast guard off the coast of El Hierro, the smallest of the Canary Islands.

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Written by

Cole Sinanian