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More than 600 migrants rescued off Spain in one day

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More than 600 migrants rescued off Spain in one day
Migrants huddling in a rescue boat. Photo: AFP
12:06 CEST+02:00
A total of 616 migrants on board some 20 vessels, including a kayak, were rescued Monday off the coast of Spain, the national rescue service said.

Among those picked up on or near the Strait of Gibraltar or the Alboran Sea further east in the Mediterranean, three youngsters from north Africa were found trying to get to Spain on a kayak, Salvamento Maritimo said on Twitter.   

The operations come eight days after 630 migrants arrived in the Spanish port of Valencia aboard three vessels, including the French NGO rescue ship Aquarius.

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The Aquarius rescued the migrants off Libya's coast on June 9th but Italy's new populist government and Malta both refused to let it dock, triggering an international outcry before Spain stepped in to help.

An EU mini summit took place on Sunday to discuss the migration issue but no concrete measures were agreed on.   

Spain is the third biggest destination for migrants in the European Union after Italy and Greece.

While the number of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean has halved this year compared to  2017, the total reaching Spain has tripled, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Some 12,155 people have arrived in Spain so far this year, the IOM's most recent figures show, and a further 292 died in the attempt.   

All in all, close to 1,000 migrants have lost their lives in the Mediterranean this year, they add.

READ ALSO: ‘It's been a long time since I was hugged like this': Aquarius girl, 12, to rescuer

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