• Drownings of 49 migrants off Spain’s coast boosts first-half 2017 total to 109
• Across Mediterranean, 2,000 have died so far this year trying to reach Europe
Leading Spanish non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have called for an immediate change in government policy to provide safe and secure routes for refugees attempting to reach Spain by sea, following the drowning deaths off Spain’s southern coast near Almeria of 49 Sub-Saharan Africans trying to reach the mainland in an overloaded rubber boat.
The Spanish Committee for Refugee Aid (CEAR, Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado) and the office in Spain of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) said that Spain and Europe need to do more to ensure safe passage of migrants and refugees risking their lives to reach safe haven in Europe via the Mediterranean.
The comments came in response to the discovery Wednesday by a Spanish Salvamento Marítimo coast guard helicopter of a capsized boat with only three survivors of 52 migrants from Guinea, Gambia and Mali who had embarked from Morroco bound for Spain. The boat and survivors were found about 45 kilometers west of Spain’s Alboran Island, which lies 90 kilometers south of the Almeria coast.
According to a CEAR spokesperson, 128 migrants died at sea trying to reach Spanish shores in 2016 and the most recent deaths of 49 boat people bring the total number of deaths this year to 109, with nearly six months remaining in 2017.
Across the Mediterranean, more than 2,000 people have died this year alone trying to reach Europe by sea, with non-governmental agencies having rescued an estimated 12,000 additional refugees and migrants stranded at sea.
In a report just issued, Amnesty International has blamed “failing EU policies” for the rising death toll among refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean and has called on Spain and other European countries to do more to resolve the situation.