The stream of migrants trying to reach Spain on precarious boats continues unabated. In the last 48 hours, 729 people were rescued off the southern coast of Spain. Since Friday, 1,000 migrants were saved near Spanish shores.
18,016 people have arrived in Spain since the beginning of the year
On Sunday, Maritime Rescue ships helped save 447 people from 24 rickety boats: 190 in the westernmost part of the Mediterranean, known as the Alborán Sea, and 257 more in the Strait of Gibraltar.
Among those rescued was a heavily pregnant woman experiencing “very strong contractions” who had to be flown by helicopter to a hospital in Almería. Four more migrants were also taken to health centers in Tarifa in Cádiz for bruising, abdominal pain and a possible fracture, according to Red Cross sources.
On Saturday, 329 people were rescued from 22 small boats, including two pregnant women. Over 20 of the migrants were minors. Most were taken to the southern towns of Barbate, Tarifa and Algeciras.
Italy has banned all ships carrying migrants
This year, Spain has received more migrants by sea than Italy – there were 18,016 arrivals since the beginning of the year, compared to 17,827 in Italy. In Greece, the figure is 14,678, according to the latest data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The new arrivals to Spain come amid a deepening migration crisis. In the first six months of this year, nearly 240 people have died during the Mediterranean Sea crossing into Spain, according to the IOM.
Italy’s new hard-line policy on immigration is pushing more migrants to take the deadlier route to Spain. Under the new Italian government, all ships carrying migrants are banned from entering Italian ports, despite the fact that arrivals in Italy have dropped 80% from last year, and that only deaths have increased (more than 1,000 so far in 2018, according to the UN migration agency).
English version by Melissa Kitson.