Nearly half of recent Spain migrant arrivals report exploitation and abuse

Nearly half of the migrants and asylum seekers in Spain said they have directly experienced exploitation and abuse while travelling towards the country from Africa across the Mediterranean.

The survey was conducted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as part of their flow monitoring survey. Over 1,300 asylum seekers and migrants were interviewed. The five indicators of direct experience with abuse and exploitation included: held against their will, worked without receiving agreed payment, forced to work, offered an arranged marriage, and physical violence.

“The results of this survey show an alarming incidence of reported exploitation and abuse of migrants and refugees along the route. It is striking how varied their motivations and experiences are, and we do not always realize the very high levels of vulnerability in play,” said Maria Jesus Herrera, IOM Chief of Mission in Spain.

The report also looked into indirect or observed experience of abuse and exploitation. These include offers in cash in exchange for blood, organs or body parts, forced to give blood, organs or body parts and threats of sexual violence. A quarter of all women interviewed said they had witnessed threats of sexual violence.

Morocco and Algeria, as the two final transit countries with the highest flows, were the countries with the most exploitative or abusive events happening. Libya and Mali also recorded high levels of such incidents, according to migrants surveyed.

Around 38 per cent of those surveyed had spent more than one year in transit, while less than a quarter reported traveling for three months or less. The interviewees were made up of 90 per cent men, representative of the demographics of irregular migrants.

The most common route, reported by almost one third of the sample, is through Mali to Algeria and then Morocco, before crossing to Spain by land or sea routes.

TMP – 24/03/2019

Photo: Giovanni Cancemi/Shutterstock. Boat with migrants.