Overlapping the Alboran Sea route to the east, this route is primarily taken by Algerian migrants. They board motor boats, setting their sights on the coastline of Almeria in Spain. More recently, the route has expanded in an attempt to evade violent migration controls: the Balearic Islands and the Valencia region have emerged as new destinations, which pose an even greater risk to those trying to reach them.
Failure to mobilise adequate resources to search for missing boats in the area and late warnings from boats in distress for fear of pushbacks keep this route in the shadows. Numerous vessels have disappeared without trace, leaving families in limbo as they try to find out what happened to their missing loved ones.
HISTORY OF THE ROUTE
Departures from the Algerian coast began to occur more frequently in 2006. There were two Mediterranean routes: the Central route towards Italy and the Western route towards the coast of Spain.
As part of the externalisation of Europe’s borders, the Algerian state passed legislation to punish nationals and foreigners for certain ways of entering and exiting the country. Prison sentences and fines were even applicable to minors.
Revival of the route
From 2012, there was a rise in the number of departures heading for the Spanish State and they were widely reported in the Algerian media.
Consolidation of the route
More and more Algerians began to reach the Spanish coast and departures became increasingly frequent. Militarisation in northern Morocco displaced migrants from the country, prompting them to attempt to cross from Algeria instead.
Poverty and conflict
Political conflict and poverty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic forced many Algerians to leave the country.
Helplessness in the face of danger
Although the majority of migrants on this route are Algerian, there are also increasing numbers of people from Syria, Morocco, Mali, Palestine, Yemen, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Cameroon. This growing diversity is the result of militarisation and attempts to shut down the routes crossing the Alboran Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar. The inadequate response to missing boats by rescue services is one of the factors explaining the rise in the number of victims in recent years.