MIGRANT DEATH ANNIVERSARY: 30 years since first documented case

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DEADLY: More than 6,700 people have died trying to reach Spain by boat since 1998 CREDIT: Salvamento Maritimo, via Twitter

THE first recorded case of a migrant dying in the Strait of Gibraltar while trying to cross to Spain happened 30 years ago last Thursday, with thousands killed since.

The body of the 23-year-old washed up on a beach in Cadiz province after a boat carrying 23 people was wrecked in a storm on November 1 1988.

At least 6,714 people have been killed since, according data from human rights groups. The Andalucia Acoge and For Cause organisations presented a report on immigration policy in the 30 years in Madrid since the death on Monday.

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The 23-year-old was sailing in a boat from Morocco bound for Spain when it was struck by a heavy storm 30 years ago.

Photographer Ildefonso Sena took a picture of the man’s body after it was found washed up on the Los Lances beach in Cadiz Province. Four of the passengers were arrested after the wreck and the remaining 18 were declared missing.

The 23-year-old had paid 35,000 pesetas, equivalent to around €210 in today’s money, for a passage to Spain. He was making the journey to find work in Europe, according to reports from the time.

The country was a transit destination at the time, with many migrants travelling there before journeying onto France, Italy and elsewhere.

Andalucia Acoge and For Cause’s report on migration into Spain since the death estimated there had been at least 235,568 irregular entries into Spain between 1997 and 2017.

That figure does not include the 47,684 people who arrived in Spain by boat so far this year as of October 3, according to Interior Ministry data. That figure was more than 2015, 2016 and 2017 combined.

Andalucia Acoge and For Cause presented their report in Madrid last Monday at an event attended by four survivors of the Mediterranean crossing.

The report branded some of the policies during the last 30 years as “racist” and “murderous”.

“We have to keep asking how much longer we are going to have to continue witnessing this barbarism,” the document said.

The report called for changes in policies to prioritise a respect for human rights above economic and ideological interests.

It comes as the Spanish government announced new measures to crack down on people and drugs smuggling last week with a new ban on inflatable speed boats used by traffickers.

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