Spain rescues 600 migrants in 24 hours

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Spanish coastguards have reported rescuing nearly 600 people in just one day, while the United Nations expects the country to overtake Greece as the second primary route for asylum seekers.

Most are sailing across the 12-km Strait of Gibraltar and many are choosing cheap, child-sized paddle boats without motors that allow them to bypass people smuggling networks and their fees.

On Wednesday, Spanish patrols pulled 599 people from rafts and dinghies in the Gibraltar Strait and near Alborán, an island outpost midway between Spain and Morocco, the coastguard reported on Thursday. There were 21 children, including one baby, rescued yesterday, according to the emergency services....

At least 121 drowned while attempting this route, compared to 128 deaths for the whole of 2016, as recorded by the IOM. There, they would be held until their relatives on Ceuta, the Spanish territory on Morocco's northern coast, had paid their debt.

Spanish coastguard rescues 600 migrants in 24 hours, amid surge in arrivals via Morocco
Migrant Crisis: Spain Rescues 600 People In 24 Hours

The increase in crossings means Spain could overtake Greece this year in the number of migrants arriving by sea, the UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM) said earlier this month.

The vessels heading to Spain are much smaller and carry fewer migrants than those crossing to Italy from Libya, or previously from Turkey to Greece, but they are now arriving daily, he said.

Both cities are the EU's only land borders with Africa.

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