From file: The Spanish Maritime Rescue Service | Photo: Imago
From file: The Spanish Maritime Rescue Service | Photo: Imago

A total of 141 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa were rescued at sea between Spain and Morocco over the weekend. The Spanish maritime rescue service said 28 women were among the migrants.

The Spanish maritime rescue service Salvamento Marítimo on Saturday rescued a total of 141 migrants at sea between Spain and Morocco, the rescue service said. According to Salvamento Marítimo, the migrants from the sub-Saharan region were trying to cross the Mediterranean on a variety of makeshift vessels.

Two boats carrying 86 people were recovered in the Alboran Sea, the stretch of the Mediterranean between Spain and Morocco. A spokesman for the service said one of the boats was already beginning to sink.

Although some of the people were already in the water by the time the rescuers arrived, everyone was rescued, the spokesperson said. Among the 86 migrants were 14 women and three children.

Further west, in the Straits of Gibraltar, rescue boats picked up three men in a kayak as well another 52 people, including 14 women, in a dinghy.

14,000 arrivals so far this year

Migrants from sub-Saharan Africa like the ones rescued over the weekend are regularly stopped by Moroccan authorities if they try to approach the regular border crossing points at the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in Morocco.

As a result, very few sub-Saharan Africans are able to access the asylum procedure.

This drives sub-Saharan Africans to turn to organized crime, hiding in cars, using rafts, or attempting to scale the fence at Ceuta and Melilla to try to gain access to the enclaves. In the process, they are exposed to risks of trafficking and violence.

Since the beginning of this year, close to 14,000 migrants have arrived in Spain, the vast majority of them by sea. According to the latest figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 203 people have died attempting the crossing from North Africa.

Last year, roughly 65,000 migrants arrived in Spain, up from close to 30,000 in 2017.

In the Mediterranean as a whole, 682 have died or are missing attempting the crossing from northern Africa since the beginning of this year. According to IOM, 31,600 migrants have made it to Europe.

With material from AFP

 

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