Almost 1,000 migrants die at Spain borders in first of half of 2023: NGO

Almost 1,000 migrants die at Spain borders in first of half of 2023: NGO
More than 330 people died on their way to Spain in June alone, migrant rights group Walking Borders said.
2 min read
12 July, 2023
Thousands of migrants from the Middle East, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa attempt to reach Europe via Spain every year [Getty]

Close to 1,000 people have died at the Spanish border in the first half of 2023, with an average of five migrants dying every day, a leading migrant rights group said on Monday.

Spanish charity Caminando Fronteras (Walking Borders), which mostly monitors migrant deaths en route to Spain, said 951 people died between January and June this year, including 112 women and 49 children.

February and June were the deadliest months of this year, the NGO said. More than 330 people died on their way to Spain in June alone.

The toll for the year so far is likely to be higher as many deaths are not recorded, the NGO added.

The vast majority of the deaths - more than 700 - occurred as migrants travelled to Spain via the Canary Islands, Walking Borders said.

Extreme tides and weather, as well as a lack of proper navigation equipment which causes migrant boats to veer off course in the vast Atlantic Ocean, make the route from western Africa to the Canary Islands especially dangerous.

The majority of the migrants who died en route to Spain this year hailed from 14 countries, including Morocco, Syria, and Sudan, as well as several countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Last month, more than 30 people were killed when a dinghy they were travelling on sank on its way to the Canary Islands from Morocco. Dozens of people are still missing.

Migrants often use Spain as a transit point from which to move elsewhere in Europe.

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Earlier this month, a boat carrying around 200 migrants, mostly from Senegal also went missing.

Walking Borders blamed slow responses, poor rescue practices and a lack of coordination between Spanish and Moroccan authorities for the high death toll.

It said the Moroccan and Spanish authorities appeared to be "governed by geopolitical interests tied to keeping migrations under control instead of the defending the right to live."

Both Madrid and Rabat have been criticised for failing to adequately investigate migrant death tragedies, including a stampede in June of last year in which at least 23 migrants were killed as they attempted to cross into the Spanish enclave of Melilla from Moroccan territory.