According to the Spanish civil guard, on Tuesday alone there were at least 600 migrants rescued at sea. These included 11 minors and a newborn, aboard 15 boats and two jet skis. Of these, 424 were intercepted on wooden boats in the Strait of Gibraltar, while the others were trying to reach the Iberian peninsula through the Alboran Sea.
Rescue sources and various NGOs said this was the largest wave of migrants to arrive on the peninsula by sea since the beginning of the year. The crossings have been facilitated by fair weather, with calm waters and thick fog in the mornings, both of which human smugglers consider favorable for evading controls in the Strait of Gibraltar.
The first boat was intercepted in the strait at 1:00 am local time on August 16, with 39 people from the Maghreb on board. A few hours later, around 6:30 am, the motorboat "Salvamar Gadir" rescued a boat with 66 migrants - including woman and children - aboard, also from Northwest Africa, among whom were some women and children. Then, at 10:30 am, two other boats were intercepted with 34 and 26 people on board. These refugees were from Sub-Saharan Africa and the Maghreb, respectively. They were located at the strait and taken to Tarifa.
Another boat travelling with 24 adults and two children was intercepted nine miles off the coast of Barbate in the province of Cadiz. Two other boats, each with about a hundred people aboard, were located in the evening by a sea rescue helicopter, after about two hours of searching. Of the 169 migrants on fishing boats or rubber dinghies rescued in the Alboran Sea, there were 13 women, a child and a newborn.
Arrivals to the Canary Islands have also resumed. Police stopped 15 migrants from the Maghreb after they disembarked on the beach at Papelillo in Lanzarote. Just last week, EU border agency Frontex alerted Spanish authorities to a possible intensification of migrant flows from North Africa. In the month of July alone, according to Frontex data, 2,300 people arrived on the Spanish coasts by sea. That number is four times higher than July 2016. In all, the number of migrants who have reached Spain over the first seven months of the year, including by land via the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, totals 10,751 people, which is a 104 percent increase compared to the same period in 2016.
Despite the spike in arrivals, the numbers are still less than during the "cayucos crisis" of 2006, when 39,180 people reached the Iberian coasts.