The head of the European Commission, along with Spain’s prime minister, is set to visit Mauritania to address the issue of irregular migration to Europe. During the visit, Ursula von der Leyen and Pedro Sanchez are expected to promise 200 million euros ($215 million) in aid to Mauritania, with a focus on curbing the growing number of departures.
Migration is poised to be a key issue in the upcoming European Parliament elections, particularly with the rise of anti-immigration rhetoric from right-wing parties. Mauritania’s strategic significance has increased due to mounting migration pressure and escalating instability in the Sahel region. According to a Spanish government source, Spain aims to bolster its ties with Mauritania through the European Union (EU) and provide support to address these challenges.
The influx of migrants entering Spain irregularly by sea has seen a drastic surge, with a nearly 300% increase in January alone, primarily via the Canary Islands. Spanish officials note that approximately 83% of the dinghy boats arriving in the archipelago originated from Mauritania.
The country, with a population of fewer than five million people, grapples with widespread poverty and has been coping with an influx of tens of thousands of people from neighbouring Mali since 2012.