Rabat – An irregular migrant from Sub-Saharan Africa died attempting to swim to the Spanish enclave of Melilla on Tuesday, March 2; one of four who lost their lives in a span of two days.
InfoMigrants, an information website dedicated to fighting migration-related disinformation, reports that the sub-Saharan migrant tried to swim to Melilla from the Moroccan port of Beni Ansar, less than a kilometer away. The waters off of Melilla claimed a total of four lives in two days, it added.
The organization also reported on two other people who attempted to cross, who initially survived but required hospitalization due to hypothermia. Following an alert from a nearby witness, rescuers brought them in from the sea later in the evening. Resuscitation was unsuccessful on one.
Later the same evening, a third person was found in Melilla. She too had tried to cross by sea but required rescue and hospitalization.
Read also: The Deteriorating Conditions of African Migrants in the Mediterranean
Across the span of four days in February, Spanish authorities discovered 41 irregular migrants attempting to reach Europe by way of Melilla, some hiding among broken glass and toxic ash.
As crossings to Europe from Libya and Tunisia have become increasingly dangerous, many irregular migrants opt for Melilla instead, either by climbing the border fence or by swimming. The two Spanish enclaves in northern Morocco, Ceuta and Melilla, represent the only land borders between the European Union and Africa.
Including the two enclaves as crossing points, thousands of migrants from Sub-Saharan and North Africa use Morocco as a transit country to reach Europe.
Videos documenting migrants’ risky journey have often gone viral online. The motives behind the decision are often linked to the economic crisis, poverty, and unemployment in their home countries.
Morocco has witnessed continued success in stopping attempted irregular migration operations bound for Spain, causing undocumented migrants passing through Morocco to seek new routes, such as crossing the Atlantic towards the Canary Islands.
The Western Mediterranean, primarily Spain, saw a marked decrease of irregular migration in 2020, recording 17,000 arrivals, a 28% decline compared to the previous year.