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More than 250 migrants tried to reach Spain by sea during the Feast of the Lamb celebration

This is the number of people rescued by the Moroccan authorities' boats in the middle of the sea
fragata marruecos

PHOTO/ARCHIVO  -   Moroccan frigate 611 Mohamed V

The Moroccan Royal Navy Coast Guard intercepted up to 257 people trying to cross from Morocco to Spain between Friday 9 and Tuesday 12 July. These are the days of celebration for Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Lamb. The information comes from military sources quoted by the MAP agency. 

According to the same source, the vast majority of the migrants rescued off the Moroccan coast are of sub-Saharan origin, as well as a man from Yemen and a second from Afghanistan. Among the people assisted at sea, several women and even minors were also found. 

According to the military source quoted by the MAP agency, the migrants were on board small, unsafe boats, some of them even swimming. They were rescued and taken aboard Moroccan patrol boats and given the necessary care. The Moroccan military source did not announce any deaths or the need to hospitalise any of the people. 

The vast majority of irregular crossings to Spain take place by sea. According to public data from the Spanish Interior Ministry, from January to June 2022, 14,071 irregular entries into Spain were recorded, 938 more than in the same period in 2021. This represents an increase of 7.1%. Of these irregular entries, 12,465 occurred by sea along the coasts of all of Spain, including island territories. 

grafico inmigración

It should be noted that the conditions in which migrants attempt to cross into Spain are getting worse and worse. The images of the boats known as "cayucos" thrown into the sea with overcrowding are recurrent in the media. This is confirmed by the ministry's data. Despite more migrants by sea from 2021 to 2022, the number of boats was reduced by 22.37%. More migrants for fewer boats. 

Once again, the Canary Islands are once again the Spanish territory most exposed to the arrival of irregular vessels. So far in 2022, the Ministry of the Interior quantifies the number of migrants arriving on the Canary Island coasts at 8,741. In the whole of 2021, 21,316 migrants crossed the dangerous Atlantic Ocean to the islands, a phenomenon that exploded in 2020 with the massive arrivals of sub-Saharan refugees. 

In the case of the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla, arrivals by sea do not exceed those by land. Fence jumping is still the preferred route for those trying to reach Europe. The situation could change, according to police sources and analysts, who tell Atalayar that a reinforcement of the technical resources at the Ceuta and Melilla fences could lead to a change in the immigration routes, pushing more people into the sea. 

patrullero marroquí Bir Anzaran
PHOTO/ARCHIVO - Patrullero marroquí 341 Bir Anzaran, nombrado en referencia a la batalla del Sáhara 

These interceptions reported by the Moroccan authorities come after the meetings held at European level, together with Spain, on immigration control. Following a meeting between Commissioner Ylva Johanson and Minister Grande-Marlaska with Moroccan Minister Laftit, it was agreed to strengthen cooperation to combat illegal crossings. The European Union undertook to provide more resources and to involve its agencies more on the borders with Morocco. 

Morocco has various means to control its waters. In recent years the kingdom has acquired Turkish Barayktar TB2 drones, which fly over the Moroccan coasts near Spain without carrying weapons, as confirmed by the Moroccan government. They are also used along the extensive coastline further south, from where a large number of vessels depart. 

For interceptions, Morocco has patrol boats of different classes at its disposal. According to OSINT sources, it is not common to see them controlling immigration, but the Royal Navy's offshore patrol boats can fulfil this kind of task. In 2010, Morocco acquired a deep-sea patrol boat named Bir Anzarane, which inaugurated a new class. Coastal surveillance tasks are mostly relegated to the 101 class vessels, of which the Royal Navy has at least twenty in operation, of the Arco-45 or Rodman 101 type.