RABAT, Morocco

Moroccan coast guards have rescued 368 irregular migrants, including three children and seven women, off the kingdom’s coast in the Mediterranean Sea, according to the Moroccan news agency MAP.

The bulk majority of those rescued hailed from sub-Saharan Africa in a four-day operation that took place between July 20 and 23.

“The migrants were facing difficulties aboard 22 inflatable boats, 30 kayaks, and five rubber wheels,” MAP said.

In November last year, the Moroccan Interior Ministry said it had foiled 26,800 illegal immigration attempts in 2020 and dismantled more than 196 migrant trafficking networks.

For years, Maghreb countries — Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia — have witnessed attempts by migrants from mainly sub-Saharan Africa to reach Europe.

In the first half of 2021, nearly 15,000 people illegally crossed into Spain, an increase of 63% from the same period in 2020, according to the Interior Ministry.

This year, migrant routes to Spain have also become more fatal.

Nearly 2,100 people died or went missing trying to cross Africa into Spain, five times higher than last year, according to the human rights organization Caminando Fronteras, or Front Line Defenders.

*Writing by Ibrahim Mukhtar in Ankara

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