The Spanish maritime rescue service on Monday rescued almost 200 migrants who tried to get to Spain from North Africa. This brings the total number of people rescued in the Western Mediterranean to nearly 400 in less than one week.
In the second major series of rescue efforts in less than one week, Spain’s maritime rescue service Salvamento Marítimo picked up 183 people attempting to make the dangerous crossing from North Africa to Spain.
According to the Spanish rescue services, 73 people on Monday were rescued from three boats in the Strait of Gibraltar. Among the rescuees were ten minors.
Another 110 people were rescued from five boats in the Alboran Sea, the majority of whom will be taken to the port city of Malaga.
Last Thursday, the Spanish coast guard rescued 208 migrants from Mediterranean waters east of the Strait of Gibraltar in only 24 hours. This brings the total number of migrants Spain rescued in less than one week to 391.
In mid-July, the Spanish maritime rescue service had picked up 141 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa between Spain and Morocco.
The rescues come amid a debate in Spain over the role that charity boats should play in assisting government efforts: Last month, Spanish NGO search and rescue (SAR) vessel Open Arms was at the center of a stand-off with Italian authorities.
Migrants scale fence to Spanish enclave
Separately, at least 155 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa crossed the border fence separating the Spanish overseas enclave of Ceuta from Morocco last Friday. It was the biggest attempt to cross the heavily guarded barrier in a year.
On the same day only roughly 36 kilometers north, a separate group of 15 migrants arrived at the port of San Roque in mainland Spain. Rescued at sea by NGO vessel Open Arms, the migrants were brought to Spain from Italy by a Spanish warship.
San Roque is located just north of Gibraltar on Spain’s southern coast. Roughly 100 kilometers northeast lies Malaga on the Alboran Sea, where many of the migrants from Monday's rescues were brought. The Alboran Sea is the stretch of the Mediterranean between Spain and Morocco.
Arrivals to Spain down
Migrant arrivals to Spain so far this year by mid-August were a little over 18,000 as data from Spain’s interior ministry showed. That’s a 39 percent decline compared to the same period last year.
Irregular sea arrivals to the EU from the Middle East and North Africa, meanwhile, dropped from over one million in 2015 to some 140,000 people last year.
During the same period, nearly 15,000 people are estimated to have died or gone missing in the perilous sea voyage, International Organization for Migration (IOM) data showed. This year alone, 911 migrants have died in the Mediterranean (as of September 2), according to IOM.
With material from Reuters