Five Moroccan migrants drown after boat capsize off Western Sahara

A rights group reported on Tuesday that a boat capsize off Western Sahara resulted in the drowning of at least five Moroccans as number of migrants attempting to cross to Europe from the region rose sharply.

Over the weekend, authorities confirmed that six migrants lost their lives off the coast of northern Morocco while attempting to reach Spain.

According to Mohamed Zendour, a representative of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH), a boat sank near Dakhla, in the contested Western Sahara region, on Monday resulting in the most recent loss of lives.

“The vessel, which carried about 60 migrants, capsized not far from the coast due to waves,” Zendour said, adding the death toll could increase.

Located in northwest Africa, Morocco serves as a crucial transit country for numerous migrants attempting to reach Europe either through Spain’s mainland or the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Canary Islands are situated approximately 150 kilometers (93 miles) away from southern Morocco.

Since late 2019, Atlantic crossings have seen a surge in numbers, following a significant decline in Mediterranean crossings due to heightened patrols along Europe’s southern coast.

From July 10 to 17, the Moroccan navy reported rescuing nearly 900 migrants, with the majority hailing from various sub-Saharan African nations.

On Tuesday, Spain’s coastguard announced the successful rescue of a migrant boat off the Canary Islands, saving 84 individuals from dire conditions.

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