A baby born at sea is rescued by Spanish authorities in mid-February | Photo: Reuters
A baby born at sea is rescued by Spanish authorities in mid-February | Photo: Reuters

Spanish rescuers picked up a total of 87 migrants in three different boats last week, including a baby who had been born in one of the boats just before the rescue.

87 migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa were found in three different boats, just south of the island of Gran Canaria on Thursday, February 13.

A spokesperson for the Spanish rescue service Salvamento Maritimo told the news agency AFP: "A new-born baby was rescued and it seems that the mother gave birth in the boat just beforehand." The spokesperson added that both mother and baby were "doing well."

Two of the three boats were found around 60 nautical miles south of Gran Canaria, a third was discovered slightly later just as they neared the island. A total of 30 women, six babies and four other children were rescued, the rest were men, reported AFP.

This was the second birth on board such a crossing since the beginning of the year. The first baby, born in January, was pronounced dead on arrival on the island of Lanzarote.

New surge hoping to reach Canary Islands?

Authorities are worried that these arrivals might be part of a renewed surge of people attempting to make the 1000 kilometer crossing from Mauritania. In the last few months Morocco has been cracking down on migrant attempts to cross into the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta. The tightening of controls in one place appears to have increased the numbers trying by other routes.

According to AFP, in January the numbers of migrants who reached the Canary Islands totaled 708. That is 18 times the levels of a year previously says AFP. A decade ago, tens of thousands attempted to cross the Atlantic from sub-Saharan Africa to the Canaries. So far this year, 911 migrants have arrived on the Canary Islands, according to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR.

More migrants are also attempting to make it directly to mainland Spain via sea crossings from Algeria’s northern coast. In total, according to the UNHCR there have been 3,412 arrivals this year throughout Spain. Those arriving by sea numbered 2,713 and those by land 699 as of February 9.

In December 2019, a quarter of migrants arriving in Spain had Moroccan nationality, 15% were from Guinea and a similar number from Algeria.

•••• ➤ Also read: Two migrants die in attempt to reach Canary Islands by boat

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