Morocco’s navy saved over 800 would-be migrants and recovered one body in a week, as attempts to reach Spain soar, reports a state owned outlet.
Morocco’s navy rescued 845 migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, between July 10th and 11th, with approximately half of them rescued in territorial waters off the country’s south, according to the state news agency MAP, citing a military source.
One body was recovered during the rescue operations, the source stated.
Morocco, located in northwest Africa, has become a transit country for numerous migrants attempting to reach Europe, either via Spain’s mainland or the Canary Islands in the Atlantic. The Canary Islands of Spain lie just 150 kilometers (93 miles) off the southern coast of Morocco.
These Spanish islands have historically been a magnet for migrants in search of a better life in Europe, and numerous boats embark on their journey from the coastlines of Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, and Senegal.
The Atlantic journey to the Canary Islands is perilous, as migrants face strong currents, overloaded boats, and lack of drinking water.
On the 11th of this month, AlarmPhone, a hotline dedicated to aiding distressed migrants at sea, posted on Twitter that there was a tragic shipwreck off the disputed Western Sahara territory, resulting in the loss of 24 lives.
The capsized boat, carrying 61 people, sank two days ago, with 37 survivors.
It’s important to note that this information has not been confirmed by Moroccan authorities.
Last week, Spain’s coastguard was actively searching for three boats carrying approximately 300 migrants, which had been reported missing by Caminando Fronteras, a Spanish NGO that aids migrant vessels in distress.
Atlantic crossings surged in late 2019 due to increased patrols along Europe’s southern coast, which reduced Mediterranean crossings significantly.
In the first half of 2023, 7,213 migrants reached the Canary Islands by boat, as reported by the Spanish interior ministry.
Moroccan authorities foiled 26,000 irregular migration attempts in the first five months of 2023, with about 71,000 attempts last year, as per the interior ministry. Its track record on combating illegal migration is impressive and yet, with recent agreements struck between the EU and Tunisia, Morocco will soon agree a new framework with the EU, as Maghrebi reported recently.