A growing number of minor migrants are currently in Spain without their parents. To help them, Spain’s new socialist government has unblocked €40m for regions willing to welcome them.

The government described this as an “exceptional initiative” to address a “rise in the number of arrivals over the past few months”.

Health Minister Carmen Monton said there were currently 10,000 unaccompanied migrant minors in Spain.

As reported by the Agence France-Presse (AFP), Spain’s previous conservative government had counted just over 6,200 unaccompanied minor migrants in April, compared to 4,000 in 2016.

Many of these children and teenagers come from Morocco. By law, minors cannot be sent back to their country. When they reach 18, they are entitled to Spanish nationality if they have been in a centre for at least two years.

According to Spain’s newspaper El País, the government’s incentive may not be enough to convince the country’s southern regions. For instance, the Andalusian government wants Madrid and Rabat to negotiate the return of underage migrants to Morocco. The move comes as the southern Spanish region struggles to cope with growing immigration flows that have led to overcrowded centres.

Andalusian representatives are also calling for a redistribution of the more than 2,500 migrant minors currently in their care by sending some of them to centres in other parts of Spain.

But non-profit groups such as Save the Children have sounded the alarm. The group’s director, Andrés Conde, said: “We need to guarantee that each case will be dealt with individually to ensure that the children will be safe back home.”