From file: Migrants from Morocco sit after arriving on the coast of the Canary Islands | Photo: picture alliance/AP Photo
From file: Migrants from Morocco sit after arriving on the coast of the Canary Islands | Photo: picture alliance/AP Photo

The Moroccan Navy picked up 63 migrants from their rubber dinghy off the coast of Morocco on February 1. Meanwhile, Spanish rescuers reported more rescues nearer the Canary Islands.

On February 1, the migration rights NGO Caminando Fronteras (Walking Borders) tweeted that 47 migrants were in need of rescue from their rubber boat which had got into difficulty off the coast of Morocco.

Helena Maleno Garzon from the organization said they were sinking in an inflatable boat not far from southern Morocco and the town of Tarfaya and that the people would "die if not rescued soon."


Updated figures: 63 rescued

Later that day, they updated the numbers to say 62 people had eventually been rescued by the navy. The organization Alarm Phone reported that in fact "63 people in severe distress… were found by the Moroccan navy and safely brought to shore."


This number was also reported by the French news agency Agence France Presse (AFP). According to AFP, the Moroccan authorities "did not immediately confirm the operation."

Boats leaving the western coast of Morocco regularly set out for the Canary Islands, the Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, a few hundred kilometers off the coast of Africa even at the shortest crossing point.

Caminando Fronteras calls for investigation

On the same day, Caminando Fronteras retweeted an article of the Spanish online portal Europapress.es, which stated the organization was calling for an investigation into an incident that took place towards the end of January.

According to the association, a rubber boat purportedly carrying 27 people, 25 from sub-Saharan Africa and two Bangladeshis, set off from Akhfennir in Morocco on January 25.

The boat soon got into trouble and contacted Caminando Fronteras. Europapress.es wrote that the Spanish coast guard was alerted to the boat but waited some hours before locating the boat and sending a rescue team.


Nine people were rescued from the boat, but Caminando Fronteras ask what became of the remaining 18 people on that vessel? The passengers included seven women and one child, reports Europapress.

Caminando Fronteras asks whether more people could have been saved if the Spanish rescue service had arrived sooner? They also question why no aircraft was deployed in a search for the vessel. They have called upon the Spanish Ombudsman to open an investigation into the incident.

Safe and sound on land

Meanwhile, Spanish rescuers brought ashore 37 migrants originating from the Maghreb (North Africa) on February 1, including two women, to the port of Arguineguín on Gran Canaria, according to Reuters.

One of the 37 reportedly had to be evacuated by helicopter. Their dinghy was spotted about 24 kilometers off the coast of Gran Canaria.

On February 2, local news services Canarias7 said that Spanish rescuers had brought a total of 166 people to safety on the Canaries, including nine minors. The migrants came in three separate small boats, and included 32 women, eight minors and one baby.

The boats in this case were located south of Gran Canaria and east of the island of Lanzarote. One of the boats was a rubber dinghy with 61 sub-Saharan migrants on board and a second boat had 105 people on board.

Migrants wait to disembark from a Spanish coast guard vessel, in the port of Arguineguin, on the island of Gran Canaria, Spain, February 1, 2022 | Photo: REUTERS/Borja Suarez
Migrants wait to disembark from a Spanish coast guard vessel, in the port of Arguineguin, on the island of Gran Canaria, Spain, February 1, 2022 | Photo: REUTERS/Borja Suarez

Canary Island arrivals since January

Last week, on January 26, Spanish rescue services picked up "more than 300 migrants" who were trying to reach the Canary Islands in "rickety boats", according to Reuters.

The rescue services stated that one boat had as many as 120 on board. Nine people were found clinging to a half-submerged boat, the other 18 reported passengers are those whose disappearance Caminando Fronteras wants investigated.

According to Caminando Fronteras, more than 4,000 lost their lives on the route to the Canary Islands in 2021. The UN refugee agency UNHCR last updated its arrival figures for Spain on January 23. On that date, they had registered 2,574 migrant arrivals on Spanish territory, with 1,648 on the Canary Islands.

Also read: Woman gives birth to baby en route to Canary Islands

 

More articles