Spanish Salvamento Maritimo members take care of rescued migrants upon their arrival at Arguineguin's port in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain, 25 August 2021 | Photo: EPA/QUIQUE CURBELO
Spanish Salvamento Maritimo members take care of rescued migrants upon their arrival at Arguineguin's port in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain, 25 August 2021 | Photo: EPA/QUIQUE CURBELO

The route from Africa to Spain continues to claim victims. On Thursday last week, a young migrant died while attempting to swim from Morocco to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, while a new shipwreck with 64 people missing was reported off the southern coast of Western Sahara.

A young migrant died Thursday evening (September 2) while attempting to swim to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta from Morocco, the Spanish Guardia Civil told Spanish press agencies and other media. The probable cause of death was drowning, but that will need to be confirmed by an autopsy.

The boy who died was accompanied on the crossing by another person who survived and was assisted by the Red Cross, said local newspaper El Faro de Ceuta.

In recent months there have been several attempts by undocumented migrants to enter Ceuta by land and sea. Some migrants lost their lives as they tried to swim to the enclave's beaches, bypassing a barrier that marks the border between Morocco and Spain.

Many women and children among the 64 missing from latest shipwreck

Meanwhile, 64 people went missing in a new shipwreck in recent days off the southern coast of Western Sahara. The news was reported by the NGO Caminando Fronteras, which specialises in migration on the routes between Africa and Spain, and was confirmed by Moroccan authorities.

According to a reconstruction by Caminando Fronteras spokesperson and activist Helena Maleno, there were 86 people in all on the sunken boat.

Maleno said the Moroccan Navy recovered the bodies of 21 women and a two-year-old girl, and the others are missing at sea, including numerous women and children.

An official Moroccan source confirmed to EFE news agency that in recent hours the bodies of migrants were recovered at sea, without adding further information.

A spokesperson for the Spanish Maritime Rescue Service (Salvamento Marítimo) confirmed to ANSA that a shipwreck notice was received from Morocco. The same source said it could not provide more precise information because Moroccan authorities handled the case, not Spanish authorities.

On Thursday evening, Spanish emergency services rescued and assisted 67 people, including 14 women and four minors, who were spotted aboard a boat off the coast of the island of Fuerteventura (Canary Islands).

Caminando Fronteras had sounded an alarm regarding this boat and said it was at risk of a shipwreck.

Shipwrecks of migrants on the Africa-Canary route have multiplied in the last two months.

Continuous arrivals on the Canary Is, 9,255 people have landed in 2021

Meanwhile arrivals of migrants in Spain by sea continue unabated, in particular off the Canary Islands and in smaller numbers in the Strait of Gibraltar.

On Wednesday last week, Spain's maritime rescue service went into action to rescue three boats spotted in the area of the arcipelago and two near the coast of Cadiz (Andalucia), said EFE news agency.

Thirty-two people were rescued near the island of Alegranza, while two other boats with around 90 to 100 people on board were intercepted nearby, south of Fuerteventura. Fifty-two people were rescued from two boats near Cadiz, EFE said.

According to figures published on Thursday by the Spanish Ministry of the Interior, a total of 9,255 migrants landed in the Canary Islands between January 1 and August 29, 2021. Of these, 1,724 took place in the month of August, which saw the second-highest number of landings all year, following January. There were 579 landings in July.

Almost half the migrants who have landed in Spain thus far this year arrived in the Canary Islands (in total, 19,021). This is an increase of 135.8% compared to the first eight months of 2020.

Undocumented migration by sea has increased by 54.1% for Spain overall, an increase of 49.7% (20,491 people) counting landings by sea and land.

Interior ministry figures do not include those who arrived en masse at the enclave of Ceuta in mid-May.

With the increase in recent weeks in migrant landings in the Canary Islands, tragedies are also on the rise involving people from Africa who try to reach the islands but die on the way. Caminando Fronteras said 1,922 people reportedly died or went missing in this area of the Atlantic Ocean in the first six months of 2021.


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