Portuguese ‘Secret Service’ dubs new migrant route from Morocco ‘particularly worrying’

In stark contrast to authorities which have been umming and ahhing over whether traffickers have established a new migrant route into Europe by dropping boat-loads of Moroccans alongside Algarve beaches, SIS – the Portuguese ‘secret service’ – has come out publicly to say they most certainly have, and it views the development as ‘particularly worrying for internal security’.

In its latest annual report (RASI), SIS says the increase in the number of illegal ‘arrivals’ to our shores “could have direct effects on our country”.

In the last six months, 48 migrants have been identified trying to arrive undetected. Four have almost certainly ‘got away with it’ (click here). A number of those who were ‘taken in’ for processing have ‘disappeared’ (click here) – and it’s highly possible that other boats will have reached the coast and been missed.

Officially, interior minister Eduardo Cabrita has been at pains to belittle the significance of these incidents – alluding to the many thousands of migrants who land every year in Spain.

“We’re talking of four boat-loads carrying 48 people since December”, he said earlier this month. “We should have some dimension of the ridiculous when we compare the 7,500 arrivals in Spain since January…”

Mr Cabrita has been asked for a comment on SIS’ latest report, but at time of writing had not given one.

Explain reports, since the very first boat (the one in which at least four occupants ‘got away’ and almost all the rest have since disappeared) SIS warned the government that this could be a case of traffickers trying a new ‘route’ into Europe – particularly now that security has been tightened across the straits of Gibraltar.

The migrants are essentially young men from Morocco and Algeria – and Portugal’s lenient approach to them (now on the way to being corrected) will have been a major attraction.

Diário de Notícias suggests the policy – adopted with the last boatload – to actually expel illegal arrivals may help put traffickers off.

Certainly authorities are now taking care not to ‘lose’ the latest group as it waits for the expulsion order to be enacted.

Meantime, “lots of boats” are apparently leaving the Moroccan town of El Jadida every week, most of them trying to reach Cádiz, in Spain.

Says DN, one of SIS’ concerns is that the boats that have reached the Algarve weren’t ‘spotted’ by the GNR coastal control system. They were flagged in each case by fishermen. It doesn’t say much for SIVICC, the so-called ‘integrated system of vigilance, command and control’, though GNR sources have refuted this, suggesting the boats were of a size that in their opinion posed ‘little risk’.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com