Moroccan navy rescues 244 migrants


The Moroccan navy rescued 244 Spain-bound migrants in the past two days, state media reported.

The migrants, including women and minors, are mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, Xinhua quoted the official MAP news agency as saying on Sunday citing military officials.

They were travelling in several inflatable boats in the Strait of Gibraltar, which separates the African continent from Europe.

Some of the migrants were in a poor health condition and received the first aid from the navy units, before they were brought back to different Moroccan ports, it added.

Morocco, long a transit country for mixed movements, has continued to gradually become a destination country for refugees and asylum-seekers.

The number of refugees and asylum seekers has consistently increased over the past seven years, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Last year, there was an increased by nearly 30 per cent compared to 2019.

As of January 1 2021, there were 13,533 persons of concern from 45 countries of origin registered with UNHCR Morocco, including 8,138 refugees and 5,395 asylum seekers.

Refugees originate primarily from Syria (55 per cent), other Middle Eastern countries (16 per cent – Yemen, Iraq and Palestine) and sub-Saharan countries (25 per cent – Central African Republic, Ivory Coast and Democratic Republic of the Congo).As a result, Moroccan authorities scaled up efforts to prevent irregular movements towards Europe by dismantling smuggling and trafficking networks, and stepping up border monitoring and police interventions.