Spain catches boat with up to 113 sub-Saharan migrants near Malaga

Spanish border police catch boat of up to 113 sub-Saharan migrants near Malaga during bid to cross the Mediterranean under cover of dark

  • Some 113 African migrants arrived at port in Malaga, southern Spain early today
  • Migrants intercepted as they tried to cross the Mediterranean Sea in a dinghy
  • Groups were assisted by the Red Cross as they huddled in blankets at the port

A boat carrying up to 113 migrants from Africa to Europe has been intercepted off the coast of Spain as it attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea. 

The sub-Saharan migrants disembarked late last night at a port in Malaga, southern Spain after they were picked up as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean in a dinghy. 

Photographs show the migrants wrapped up warm in red blankets provided by rescuers as they wait to leave the Spanish boat before sunrise. 

People were then seen clinging to their blankets and coats as they were led across the port in single file, where they were assisted by the Spanish Red Cross.

A group of women were later photographed being accompanied to a bus by Spanish police officers after their arrival at the port. 

Sub-Saharan migrants, who were rescued from a dinghy in the Mediterranean Sea, stand in a queue on a rescue vessel after their arrival at the Port of Malaga

Photographs show the migrants wrapped up warm in red blankets provided by rescuers as they wait to leave the Spanish boat

It was not immediately clear exactly where the migrants had set sail from. 

In 2018, Spain was the main point of entry for migrants to cross into Europe but the number of arrivals halved last year to 26,168.

There has, however, been a recent increase in the number of boats heading towards the Canary Islands, which lie in the Atlantic Ocean near Africa’s northeastern coast.

Morocco, a coastal state in North Africa, received 140 million euros (£121 million) in EU funds last year to crack down on illegal migrant crossings. 

Groups were then seen clinging to their blankets and coats as they were led across the port in single file, where they were assisted by the Spanish Red Cross

The 113 migrants were intercepted by a rescue vessel as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea near Malaga late on Saturday

It was not immediately clear exactly where the migrants, said to be from sub-Saharan Africa, had set sail from

This has led to an increasing number of people attempting to reach Europe by boat from Mauritania, whose coastline lies 600 miles to the south.

Last month, rescuers in Spain were searching for two boats carrying dozens of migrants missing at sea between Western Sahara and the Canary Islands.

A spokeswoman for Salvamento Maritimo, Spain’s coastguard, said a rescue plane was looking for two boats carrying 53 people – combing a huge area of water between the island of Gran Canaria and Dakhla, a port in Western Sahara.

A day earlier, two NGOs – Alarm Phone and Walking Borders – said 14 migrants, two of them children, had died near the coast of Morocco when their boat sunk while en route to the Canary Islands. 

A man wraps a blanket provided by a rescuer around his head and shoulders as he waits to disembark a rescue ship in Malaga, Spain

In 2018, Spain was the main point of entry for migrants to cross into Europe but the number of arrivals halved last year to 26,168

There has, however, been a recent increase in the number of boats heading towards the Canary Islands, which lie in the Atlantic Ocean near Africa’s northeastern coast

The same day, Salvamento Maritimo rescued another boat in distress just south of Gran Canaria which was carrying 25 migrants, taking them to the southern port of Arguinerin.

Spain has continued its efforts to send home those arriving illegally in the Canaries, with repatriation flights operated by Frontex, the European Union’s border security agency, leaving for Mauritania throughout February. 

Spain and Mauritania, in northwestern Africa, signed a bilateral agreement in 2003 under which Nouakchott agreed to receive any repatriated migrants who passed through its territory en route to Spain, regardless of their nationality.

Morocco, a coastal state in North Africa, received 140 million euros (£121 million) in EU funds last year to crack down on illegal migrant crossings

Migrant women, intercepted off the coast in the Mediterranean Sea, are led by Spanish police officers into a bus after arriving on a rescue boat at the port of Malaga, southern Spain 

Last month, rescuers in Spain were searching for two boats carrying dozens of migrants missing at sea between Western Sahara and the Canary Islands

In the first six weeks of the year, the number of migrants reaching the Canaries soared to 1,008 – 15 times the level of a year ago when it stood at 66, government figures showed.

The surge raised fears of a renewal of migrant traffic on a route taken by tens of thousands of people a decade ago.  

It comes as Turkey announced on February 28 that it would no longer abide by a 2016 deal to keep refugees on its territory. Istanbul accused the EU of falling short on commitments of financial support.

Some 35,000 migrants have since massed on the border with Greece where they have been thrust back by Greek forces. 

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