Morocco arrests 32 migrants trying to reach Spain

Morocco arrests 32 migrants trying to reach Spain
Morocco to crack down on a rising wave of migrants trying to reach Spanish shores through the highly risky sea crossing.
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Sidi Salem Cemetery in Morocco, where some of the migrants who lost their life at sea are buried. (Photo by Israel Fuguemann/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Moroccan police on Friday arrested 32 migrants as they tried to set sail for Spain, authorities said, including six Moroccans and 26 from other African nations to the south.

The group were planning to leave from the kingdom's southern coast, which lies some 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Spain's Canary Islands, the DGSN security service said.

Moroccan police have arrested dozens of migrants as well as several people smugglers since June, when some 2,000 mostly Sudanese nationals tried to enter the Spanish enclave of Melilla.

At least 23 people died in the attempt, the worst toll in years of such attempted crossings, and rights groups accused both Spanish and Moroccan authorities of using excessive force.

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The Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta have long been a magnet for people fleeing violence and poverty across Africa hoping to find a better life in Europe.

At least 11,500 migrants made their way to the Canary Islands this year, according to Spain.

Caminando Fronteras, a Spanish group that helps migrant boats in trouble at sea and families searching for missing relatives, says 978 people have died while trying to reach Spain so far this year.