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Spanish Popular party leader, Pablo Casado (L), meets some migrants during his visit at a center in Algeciras, Cadiz, southern Spain, Aug. 1, 2018. EPA-EFE/A.Carrasco Ragel

Spain: Should Europe promote African development to stem migration?

Some 22,858 migrants arrived in Spain in the first six months of 2018.

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The new leader of Spain's right-wing Popular Party visited an immigration center in the south of the country Wednesday, where he called on Western countries to promote development programs in African nations to lessen the incentive for migrants making the perilous journey to Europe. 

Pablo Casado, the new face of the Spanish opposition, urged the government of Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez to face up to the challenge of migration and proposed that European governments come up with an aid initiative similar to the Marshall Plan the United States implemented to help some of Europe to get back on its feet after World War II. 

"Western counties should not simply send aid, because they can end up in the hands of corrupt governments, but they should promote institutionalization, education, job creation and regulated immigration," Casado, who rose through the more conservative ranks of the PP, told reporters in Algeciras, near Cádiz.

In recent months, an increased number of migrant arrivals to Spain's southern shores, especially near the port city of Cádiz, via the Mediterranean Sea, has prompted the Spanish government to request extra support from the European Union amid a wider national debate on how the challenge of migration should be addressed. 

Some 22,858 migrants arrived in Spain in the first six months of 2018, according to the International Organization for Migration.

"Saying that there are enough papers for everyone, or that the State has limitless resources or that the illegal immigration route to Spain is easier than other countries is not going to solve the situation," the PP leader, who met with several migrants in Algeciras, told the press. 

The 37-year-old, who took over from Mariano Rajoy on July 21, said he wanted to follow in his predecessor's footsteps by pursuing cooperative relations with countries of migrant origin like Senegal, Mauritania and Morocco. 

"That was much easier than taking a photo in Valencia when on the same day more immigrants than were on the Aquarius were arriving in Algeciras and Almeria," he said, criticizing Sánchez, who soon into his own tenure as prime minister ordered the port of Valencia to accept the Aquarius NGO rescue vessel, which had spent days at sea with around 630 people on board after both Italy and Malta refused it entry. 

Meanwhile, Spain's Foreign Affairs Minister, Josep Borrell, said the European Commission had unblocked some 55 million euros ($64 million) of funds to "alleviate the circumstances that are occurring in Morocco."

Borrell has made these statements when asked about the letter from EC President, Jean-Claude Juncker, to PM Sánchez, and a subsequent telephone call.

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