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Four migrant boats stopped off Spanish coast

Source : | 26 March 2013 |  News | 272 views


TARIFA, Spain, March 26, 2013 (AFP)

Spanish and Moroccan rescuers on Tuesday intercepted four dinghys packed with 23 illegal immigrants trying to cross the Strait of Gibraltar and make landfall on Spain’s southern shore.

Spain’s maritime service said rescuers had picked up 12 migrants who were travelling on two boats while Morocco had intercepted 11 people who were on another two vessels.

The migrants were given blankets and transported to the port of Tarifa in the Spanish province of Cadiz which is located across the Strait of Gibraltar facing Morocco.

Spanish police then took them to a detention centre for undocumented migrants.

Spanish authorities on Monday intercepted 27 illegal immigrants travelling in three inflatable boats.  Another 35 migrants were picked up on March 18 on four inflatable boats.

The Strait of Gibraltar separates Spain and Morocco by around just 15 kilometres (nine miles) — a ferry ride between the two continents takes roughly 35 minutes — making it one of the key smuggling routes for illegal immigrants crossing into Europe.

Thousands of illegal migrants from Africa regularly attempt to cross from Morocco into Spain on makeshift boats each year.

Some travel thousands of miles overland, being handed from smuggler to smuggler, ending up at one of many ports in northern Africa for a cramped and treacherous sea crossing to European soil.

The number of migrants who arrived Spain shores by boat last year totalled 3,804, a 30 percent drop over the 2012, according to interior ministry figures.

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