Dozens of people drown as boat capsizes trying to reach Spain

At least 44 migrants, including women and infants, drowned this week off Morocco's coast as they tried to reach Spain, migrant aid agency Caminando Fronteras has said.

Safety jackets on a boat
Safety jackets on a boat. Photo: Ricardo GARCIA VILANOVA / AFP

“Tragedy. At least 44 victims drowned off the coast of Tarfaya (southern Morocco),” the aid agency’s Helena Maleno tweeted on Saturday.

They were among 61 migrants who boarded a boat heading for Spain’s Canary Islands, around 100 kilometres (62 miles) away from Tarfaya.

A total of 16 women and seven babies were among those on board, Maleno said.

“The bodies of three women and two babies are now at the morgue of Laayoune,” the main city in the disputed Western Sahara territory. The rest are still missing.

The North African kingdom of Morocco is a key transit point on routes taken by migrants hoping for better lives on European shores.

According to the Spanish interior ministry, more than 40,000 migrants arrived in the country by sea in 2021.

The European Union said this week it wanted to bolster cooperation with Morocco to stem the flow of illegal migrants entering the bloc, amid a sharp jump in attempts to reach the Canary Islands — a gateway to the EU.

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Spain and Mauritania strike undocumented migrants deal

Nouakchott and Madrid have reached a security deal to provide Mauritania with more logistical support to combat informal immigration, the state-run Mauritanian News Agency reported Thursday.

Spain and Mauritania strike undocumented migrants deal

Mauritania is a common transit country for undocumented migrants attempting to reach the European Union via the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago about 100 kilometres (62 miles) off the African continent.

The agreement was signed Wednesday by Mauritanian Interior Minister Mohamed Ahmed Ould Mohamed and his Spanish counterpart, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, who was visiting Nouakchott, the agency reported.

“This accord… will provide Mauritania with logistical and technical resources in the security domain in order to help it deal with the phenomena” of migration, it said.

The deal also covers people smuggling “and other types of organised crime” and will include security training.

Spain has previously provided naval and air assets to Mauritania, which are based in Nouadhibou, a northwestern fishing town and common departure point for migrants attempting to reach Europe.

Some 11,500 migrants had crossed to the Canary Islands from Africa this year as of September 15th, according to Spanish government figures.