Morocco rescues over 360 migrants at sea: military source

Morocco rescues over 360 migrants at sea: military source
2 min read
28 December, 2018
Morocco's navy on Thursday rescued 367 mostly sub-Saharan migrants in the Mediterranean sea after they attempted to reach Spain, a military source told AFP.

The UN says over 2,200 migrants have perished on the Mediterranean Sea in 2018 [Getty]
More than 360 mostly sub-Saharan migrants were rescued by the Moroccan navy in the Mediterranean sea after they attempted to reach Spain, a military source told AFP

The 367 migrants included women and children who were "in difficulty on board several makeshift vessels", the source said. 

"They were all brought back safely by navy units to the nearest ports."

Morocco stopped 68,000 attempted illegal migrants and dismantled 122 "active criminal networks" in the first nine months of 2018, according to a recent official count. 

Alongside migrants arriving from sub-Saharan Africa, an increasing number of young Moroccan citizens have attempted to leave the country on board inflatable dinghies in recent months. 

At least 769 migrants have died attempting to cross the western Mediterranean since the start of the year, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), after 224 died on this route in 2017. 

Spain has become the main point of entry into Europe for illegal migrants this year, ahead of Greece and Italy.

The IOM says that more than 55,000 migrants have arrived in Spain by sea this year.

Earlier this week, Spain's maritime rescue service said two children were reported missing at sea when 69 migrants were taken from a rubber dinghy in the Mediterranean Sea.

The service said people on the boat told a rescue crew the boys hadn't been seen for several hours and were presumed dead.

Survivors quoted Spain's El Pais news website gave varying accounts about the two boys, with some claiming that their bodies were thrown overboard and other saying that they 
had died at the Moroccan beach of Tcharrana, where their journey began.

The Spanish crew responded on Sunday after a fishing boat reported spotting a partially deflated rubber boat and some of its passengers in the water. The service says the fishing boat's crew saved some of the migrants before the rescue vessel arrived.

Days earlier, 12 migrants died while trying to make the dangerous sea crossing from African shores to Spain.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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