A Spanish Maritime Rescue boat carrying 307 rescued migrants arrives at the port of Algeciras in southern Spain. Credit: EPA/A. Carrasco Ragel
A Spanish Maritime Rescue boat carrying 307 rescued migrants arrives at the port of Algeciras in southern Spain. Credit: EPA/A. Carrasco Ragel

The recent wave of mass migrant deaths in the Mediterranean shows no signs of slowing, with more than 176 migrant victims and 273 missing this year alone off the coast of Spain, reported Spanish NGO APDHA. A newborn was amongst the victims of the most recent two shipwrecks last week, reported APDHA.

The Spanish NGO Asociacion Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalusia (APDHA) reported that last week a newborn from Sub-Saharan Africa and 20 young Moroccans were victims in two shipwrecks last week off Andalusia. It said the bodies of the young people were recovered on the Moroccan beach of Charrana last Saturday. The newborn had already died when Spanish Maritime Rescue forces last Friday reached a boat in the Alboran Sea off the Moroccan coast of Alhucemas that was carrying 55 people - 40 men, 10 women, three children and two newborns - from Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Losses 'unjust and avoidable' 

APDHA said the loss of life was "unjust and avoidable." It reported that more than 176 people have died so far this year attempting to reach the coasts of Spain, with 273 people missing. The organization stated the estimate does not include many who "die during the crossing or bodies that wash up on African shores." Last Saturday morning alone, Spanish Maritime Rescue forces rescued more than 450 migrants on seven boats. The Moroccan Royal Navy rescued more than 500 people aboard wrecked boats in the Alboran Sea, the Strait of Gibraltar and the Atlantic coast. APDHA sent "an embrace of condolences and solidarity" to the families of the victims and called on authorities to "open legal and safe ways" to reach Spain in an effort to end mass deaths at sea. It also called for justice, "including recognition and reparations." 

In the statement, APDHA said no one should attribute responsibility for the deaths to the mafia or the victims' own imprudence, as has been done in the past, "because no one risks everything on a rubber dinghy unless forced by the need to save their life." There were 24 young Moroccan men traveling on the fragile rubber dinghy that sunk last Friday, which had set off from the coast to the west of Melilla, the Spanish enclave in Morocco. Only four of them survived the shipwreck after being rescued by some fishermen. In the hours that followed the wreck, the tide washed up the bodies of the other 20 migrants on the beach at Charrana, in the Moroccan province of Nador.

APDHA said the Spanish government must take stock of what is happening on the other side of the border it imposed and what its responsibilities are. It has been calling on the Spanish government for some time to provide "safe ways" for migrants who reach the "armored borders" of Ceuta and Melilla after "journeys forced by necessity." It said the Spanish enclaves are "reinforced by three aggressive six-meter barriers strewn with razor wire." The controversial razors are an attempt to deter migrants from climbing the metal fences. 

Delegation visiting Spanish enclaves 

Meanwhile in Ceuta and Melilla, a delegation of six MEPs from the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs continues its visit. Portuguese MEP Ana Gomes, the committee's spokesperson, said the committee has scheduled meetings with representatives from the national government, local authorities and NGOs to gather information to draft a report on the security situation at the borders, on the respect for human rights, migrant reception systems, and migrant integration, in particular for unaccompanied minor migrants. The report will make recommendations on measures to adopt in order to face the migration crisis.

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