Morocco navy rescues more than 400 Europe-bound migrants

Migrant arrivals on the Spanish archipelago have surged since late 2019 when increased patrols in the Mediterranean dramatically reduced crossings there.

FILE: Migrants in an inflatable rubber dinghy. Picture: @seawatch_intl/Twitter

RABAT - The Moroccan navy has rescued more than 400 migrants since Thursday, after their makeshift boats ran into trouble on the dangerous sea crossing to Europe, state media reported.

The 438 migrants, most of them from sub-Saharan Africa, were given first aid before being taken to the nearest Moroccan port, an officer told the state-run MAP news agency late Monday.

MAP also reported that Moroccan authorities on Sunday intercepted 58 migrants, including 11 women, off Laayoune in Western Sahara.

Also from sub-Saharan Africa, these migrants had attempted to cross to the Canary Islands, it said.

Earlier this month, a merchant ship rescued 33 migrants who had spent two weeks adrift in the Atlantic Ocean en route for the Canary Islands. Fourteen fellow migrants lost their lives.

Migrant arrivals on the Spanish archipelago have surged since late 2019 when increased patrols in the Mediterranean dramatically reduced crossings there.

At its shortest, the sea crossing from the Moroccan coast is around 100 kilometres (65 miles), but strong currents make it very dangerous.

The vessels used are often overcrowded and in poor condition, adding to the risks.

In the first six months of this year, a total of 2,087 migrants died trying to reach Spain, according to Caminando Fronteras, a Spanish NGO that monitors migrant flows.

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