Bodies of eight migrants found off Spain’s coast

The bodies, including those of three women and a child, washed up on the shores of Almeria over the past two days.

The bodies of eight migrants, including three women and a child, have washed up on the shores of southern Spain over the past two days.

“Between Sunday and Tuesday morning, eight bodies were found along the shore … who came from one or more boats,” the Almeria authorities said on Tuesday, indicating they were found along a 20km (12.4 miles) stretch of coastline.

The Guardia Civil police were investigating, they added.

The boats had likely set off from Morocco or Algeria, a journey of at least 200km (124 miles) across the western Mediterranean, in the hope of reaching Europe.

The faster-moving boats used by people smugglers are thought to be safer than the smaller wooden vessels and flimsy rubber boats that
migrants sometimes use.

So far this year, 10,701 migrants and refugees have managed to reach the southern coast of mainland Spain or the Balearic Islands by sea, an increase of 1,680 compared to the same period last year, according to interior ministry figures up to September 14.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said at least 238 have died en route since the start of the year.

Separately, a total of 11,060 migrants have managed to reach Spain’s Atlantic Canary Islands from the coast of West Africa, more than double the 5,090 who arrived in the same period last year.

Migrants rely on smugglers and risk their lives on the perilous sea journey in overcrowded boats, with many fleeing poverty, conflict, forced labour and other threats to their lives and wellbeing, hoping to reach Europe in search of a better life.

Restrictions on air travel and border closures during the COVID-19 pandemic have also partly contributed to the increased traffic, which comes despite tougher controls to prevent Mediterranean crossings to Europe.

The route between Libya and Italy was one of the deadliest this year with an estimated 741 lives lost, according to the IOM.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies