The Moroccan army said it intercepted more than 1,100 migrants attempting to reach the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on New Year’s Eve.
Overnight Sunday to Monday, more than 1,110 people were detained in the cities of Nador, M’diq and Fnideq during multiple operations carried out by the army and security forces, the general staff of the armed forces said in a statement.
The army said that the 175 migrants apprehended in Nador, close to the border with Melilla, were from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Yemen.
It did not provide nationalities for the other detained migrants.
Ceuta and Melilla, two Spanish territories on the northern Moroccan coast, are the European Union’s only land borders on the African continent and are frequently the target of migrants hoping to reach mainland Europe.
Spain and Morocco signed a cooperation agreement on migration in February last year, while Morocco has received hundreds of millions of dollars from the EU in recent years to help tackle the issue.
Another significant migration route runs through Spain’s Canary Islands, with migrants departing from the coast of Morocco and the disputed territory of Western Sahara.
In 2023, the archipelago faced its worst migration crisis since 2006. Between January 1 and November 15, 32,436 migrants arrived on the islands, a 118 percent increase on the same period in 2022, according to figures from the ministry of the interior.
Hundreds died last year attempting to make the perilous sea journey from as far away as Senegal.