Spain is launching migration program for Senegal partly to reduce death rate of illegal African migrants

African Migrants at Spain's border
  • Spain is expanding its so-called circular migration policy by hiring at least 100 Senegalese.
  • The goal of this program is to have the migrants boost Spain’s agricultural sector, while also reducing the death toll of Africans illegally migrating to Europe. 
  • A similar program with Morocco in which 15,000 seasonal workers are annually brought in to work in Spain's agricultural industry, has recorded some measure of success. 

According to a government source, Spain is expanding its so-called circular migration policy to its first sub-Saharan African nation by hiring at least 100 Senegalese to work in its fields during the harvest.

The initiative, set to launch in April, intends to build on the success of a 22-year-old circular migration program with Morocco in which 15,000 seasonal workers are annually brought in to work in Spain's agricultural industry for a brief period before returning home.

This information is courtesy of a report released by the American news agency, Reuters.

The report notes that Spain implements circular migration programs to reduce illegal immigration and address labour shortages in its essential agricultural industry.


The death of at least 65 individuals off the coast of Italy on Sunday brought attention to the dangers illegal immigrants encounter when traveling to Europe.

A test initiative with Honduras, which recruited 250 employees in 2022, preceded the Senegal proposal. Up to 415 employees from Honduras and 102 from Ecuador came to harvest berries this year; each stayed for an average of five months. Spain has struggled for years with illegal immigration from Senegal.

In exchange for assistance and a promise to accept legal workers, the EU border police agreed to boost their surveillance of boats departing Dakar in 2006. This ended the entrance of more than 30,000 Senegalese migrants to the Canary Islands.

The program has had some growing pains. Only 18 of the 47 Senegalese employees in a failed test program in 2019 returned to their country.

According to Carmen González Enrquez, senior analyst at the think tank Elcano Royal Institute, the success of the Moroccan program was partially attributable to the decision to prioritise women and children as the primary participants, giving them a reason to go back home.


The Senegalese government is in charge of choosing the staff, according to Spain’s Migration Ministry, which has not provided any information on how it modified the selection criteria to make it work this time. All 17 Senegalese taking part in a test program did go home in 2022.



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