438 irregular migrants in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean have been rescued in the past five days, by Moroccan coast guards, according to the state news agency MAP.
“Units of the Royal Navy operating in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean have provided assistance to 438 illegal migrants between 19 and 23 August,” MAP quoted an unnamed military source as saying on Monday evening.
The source indicated that those rescued received first aid onboard the Royal Navy units before being transported safely to the kingdom’s nearby ports and handed over to the Royal Gendarmerie to carry out the necessary procedures, without giving further details.
In July, Morocco announced that its coast guards had rescued 368 irregular migrants, including three children and seven women, off the kingdom’s coast in the Mediterranean Sea.
In November last year, the Moroccan Interior Ministry said it had foiled 26,800 illegal immigration attempts in 2020 and dismantled more than 196 migrant trafficking networks.
For years, Maghreb countries — Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia — have witnessed attempts by migrants from mainly sub-Saharan Africa to reach Europe.
In the first half of 2021, nearly 15,000 people illegally crossed into Spain, an increase of 63% from the same period in 2020, according to the Interior Ministry.
This year, migrant routes to Spain have also become more fatal. Nearly 2,100 people died or went missing trying to cross Africa into Spain, five times higher than last year, according to the human rights organization Caminando Fronteras, or Front Line Defenders.