The Spanish maritime rescue service has rescued more than 200 migrants from Mediterranean waters between Wednesday and Thursday of this week.
Spanish coastguards stated the migrants from sub-Saharan Africa were found in three separate rafts and were picked up in the Alboran Sea, east of the Strait of Gibraltar between north-eastern Morocco and south-eastern Spain. This is one of the most commonly used routes used among refugees and migrants crossing into Europe from North Africa.
The operation started on Wednesday afternoon and lasted hours. Upon arrival in Spain, the migrants were taken to temporary handling facilities in Almeria and Malaga, the coast guard said.
The rescue comes as Spain is preparing for the arrival of 15 migrants on a Spanish warship from an Italian port after a prolonged stand-off between Italian authorities and a Spanish-registered humanitarian ship, the Open Arms, which had rescued around 150 mostly African migrants at the beginning of August.
The migrants were taken to temporary handling facilities in Spain.
Spain’s Interior Ministry has stated that by mid-August this year the number of migrants arriving by sea was down 42.5% compared to the same period last year — just under 14,600 compared with more than 25,300 in 2018.
It’s estimated 15,000 people have died or gone missing in the perilous sea voyage since 2015.