Three migrants found dead on boat rescued off Spain’s coast

Spanish rescuers on Monday found three dead migrants and 45 survivors, mostly Moroccan and some in very bad condition, on a boat off Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands, the coastguard said.

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

Rescuers from Salvamento Maritimo were called out to a boat in trouble off the island and reached the vessel just after midnight, a spokesman said.

He said the crew had found 45 survivors — 42 men, two women and a child — and three bodies.

All those rescued were Moroccan, with the exception of one sub-SaharanAfrican man,” he told AFP.

The 112 emergency services said five of those on board were in bad condition, adding that six people had been taken to hospital.

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

In the first seven months of the year, 9,589 migrants survived the extremely dangerous sea journey from the coast of Africa to the Spanish islands in the Atlantic, compared with 7,531 a year earlier, interior ministry figures correct to July 31 show.

In the same period, sea arrivals to Spain’s Balearic Isles in the Balearic Isles fell to 5,284 from 7,292 a year earlier.

Monday’s rescue comes after a frenetic weekend for Salvamento Maritimo which pulled nearly 600 people to safety in waters off the Atlantic archipelago.

Migrant arrivals on the Atlantic archipelago have surged since late 2019 after increased patrols along Europe’s southern coast dramatically reduced Mediterranean crossings.

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

At its shortest, the route from the Moroccan coast is around 100 kilometres (60 miles), but migrants often come from much further afield, with the distance from Mauritania more than 1,000 kilometres as the crow flies.

The Atlantic route is notoriously dangerous because of strong currents, with migrants often setting sail in overcrowded ramshackle boats which are extremely unsafe.

READ ALSO: How Europe’s population is changing and what the EU is doing about it

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Melilla migrants sentenced to 8 months in Moroccan jail

Morocco on Thursday sentenced 14 migrants to eight months in jail following their arrest a day before a deadly mass crossing into the Spanish enclave of Melilla in June.

Melilla migrants sentenced to 8 months in Moroccan jail

Fourteen migrants have been sentenced to eight months in Moroccan jail following their arrest a day before a deadly mass crossing into the Spanish enclave of Melilla in June, their lawyer has said.

“It’s a very severe judgement,” the lawyer, Mbarek Bouirig, told AFP. He said he planned to appeal.

The accused, mostly from impoverished Sudan, were arrested on June 23 during a Moroccan operation near Melilla, which along with Spain’s other enclave of Ceuta is the EU’s only land border with Africa.

At least 23 migrants died the following day when around 2,000 people, many also Sudanese, stormed the fences along the frontier. It was the heaviest death toll in years of attempted crossings into the enclaves.

The 14 were charged with offences including belonging to a criminal immigration gang and insulting law enforcement officers, Bouirig said.

Omar Naji of the AMDH human rights group, which monitored the trial, said the migrants did not try to cross the border.

 “Why condemn migrants whose sole wrongdoing was to have taken refuge in a forest?” he asked.

A Moroccan court last month sentenced 33 migrants to 11 months in jail for illegal entry, while a separate trial of 29 migrants including a minor continues.

Spanish rights group Caminando Fronteras says as many as 37 people lost their lives in the mass crossing attempt, higher than the official toll of 23.

The United Nations, the African Union and independent rights groups have condemned the use of excessive force by Moroccan and Spanish security personnel.