Thousands of migrants caught trying to reach Britain on ferries from Spain
Following the closure of the Calais Jungle camp in northern France last year, thousands of migrants are trying to reach Britain on ferries from the Spanish port city of Bilbao.
So far, more than 1,765 migrants have been stopped this year, attempting to board ferries – five times more than in all of 2016. According to Spanish media reports, there are now small encampments of tents near the ferry terminal, under motorways and in abandoned properties.
Most of the migrants are from Albania, but there are also migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Police say that they are stopping migrants trying to board passenger ferries and freight containers every day. As a result, police have increased patrolling around the port, have installed motions sensors and cameras and reinforced fences around the port.
“Sometimes they hide in the containers twice in the same day. We have increased our security and our controls so that the passage is closed to anybody who has not paid their fare. It’s a heavy workload and it is increasing,” a Guardia Civil police officer at the port said.
Associate director of Brittany Ferries, Roberto Castilla, said that 66 migrants have been arrested in the UK after being caught on ferries from Bilbao. Of those, 35 were sent back to Spain. The rest were minors or people who wanted to claim asylum.
Ferry companies are fined by the UK for every irregular migrant who reaches Britain and must pay for their flights back to Spain.
In May, 27 migrants were caught in one day trying to board ferries from Bilbao to Portsmouth. In June, another 15 were found in a single day.