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MIGRATION

Over 4,000 migrants died trying to reach Spain in 2021: NGO

Over 4,000 migrants died or disappeared trying to reach Spain by sea in 2021, twice as many as in the previous year, a migrant rights group said Monday.

Malian migrant
The shortest route to the Canary archipelago is more than 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the Moroccan coat. Photo: Lluis Gené/AFP

Migrant arrivals in Spain’s Canary Islands in the Atlantic have increased since late 2019 after increased patrols along Europe’s southern coast dramatically reduced crossings to the continent via the Mediterranean.

This route is fraught with dangers due to strong currents and the greater distances involved.

A total of 4,404 migrants perished or vanished in attempts to reach Spain last year, up from 2,170 in 2020, according to Spanish non-governmental organisation Caminando Fronteras, which tracks data from boats in distress.

That is the highest yearly number since the group started keeping records in 2015.

The bodies of the vast majority of migrants, 94 percent, were never found so they are counted as missing.

Over 90 percent of the deaths or disappearances last year, 4,016, took place during attempts to reach Spain’s Canary Islands.

The shortest route to the archipelago is more than 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the Moroccan coat.

“There are painful figures”, María González Rollán, one of the authors of the annual report, told a news conference.

Migration routes to Spain were becoming more “feminised”, with 628 women and 205 children among those who died or went missing last year while trying to reach the country, she added.

The figures from the NGO are much higher than those from the UN International Organization for Migration which has tallied 1,279 deaths or disappearances of migrants on their way to Spain from northern Africa last year.

At least 37,385 migrants arrived in Spain by sea last year, according to Spanish interior ministry figures, slightly less than the 38,014 that arrived in 2020.

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MIGRATION

Nearly 1,000 migrants died trying to reach Spain in first half of 2022: NGO

At least 978 migrants died or disappeared trying to reach Spain by sea in the first six months of 2022, an average of about five per day, a migrant rights group said Wednesday.

Nearly 1,000 migrants died trying to reach Spain in first half of 2022: NGO

That is less than half of the figure of 2,087 recorded during the first six months of 2021, according to Spanish non-governmental organisation Caminando Fronteras which tracks data from boats in distress.

The group suggests fewer people are attempting to reach Spain because Morocco has stepped up its clampdown on migrant crossings since Rabat and Madrid mended diplomatic ties in March.

It also points out that 2021 was an especially deadly year for attempted migrant crossings to Spain, with more than 4,000 deaths or disappearances.

Moroccan migrants help a Sub-Saharan African man facing difficulties in the water at the border between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on May 19, 2021 in Fnideq. (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP)

More than 80 percent of the deaths or disappearances during the first six months of the year took place during attempts to reach Spain’s Canary Islands in the Atlantic.

The route to the Canaries is particularly dangerous due to strong currents, with trips in often overloaded boats without enough drinking water taking more than a week to reach the archipelago.

Many of the departures are from distant ports in Western Sahara, Mauritania or even Senegal some 1,500 kilometres (900 miles) to the south.

Spain has long been a key entry point for migrants seeking a better life in Europe.

But the number of migrants who entered Spain by sea fell by 35.7 percent in the second quarter of 2022 over the first quarter, according to an AFP tally based on interior ministry figures.

READ ALSO: What happens to undocumented migrants when they arrive in Spain?

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