"Underlining that the Algarve has been sought by illegal migrants as a gateway to Europe in a growing trend, MEP Nuno Melo asked the European Commission on 16 September about the existence of a new illegal migration route", he said in a statement.

Pointing out that "since December 2019, the Algarve coast has already registered the sixth illegal landing involving migrants from North Africa", Nuno Melo points out that "in the last eight months, 69 migrants from North Africa have been intercepted in the Algarve" and that the Western Mediterranean route has seen "a significant increase in migration flows".

The centrist therefore wants to know "whether the Algarve coast is becoming susceptible to international networks of illegal immigration and other crimes such as drug and arms trafficking".

He also stressed the need to fight illegal immigration and organised crime networks by ensuring the return of irregular migrants to their country of origin.

He said that "legal immigration must take into account the priorities, needs and reception capacities of each member state, favouring integration".

"The European Commission will present the new migration and asylum pact next week. This will include the Dublin reform, and the President of the European Commission stressed during the State of the Union speech the need for a clear definition between the right of asylum and return, stricter rules against illegal trafficking and the strengthening of borders", was stressed in the note sent to journalists.

On 15 September, the authorities intercepted a group of migrants who had landed illegally on the Desert Island in Faro and then fled, said the source of the Maritime Authority.

According to the South Sea Commander, the group of 28 migrants is allegedly from Morocco and includes three women.

In a statement, the Maritime Authority said that the group also included a child, whose age was not specified, and that one of the three women was pregnant.

The other groups of migrants who have landed in recent months on the Algarve coast were composed exclusively of men.

This is the sixth illegal landing on the Algarve coast involving migrants from North Africa.