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Rescuers abandon search for survivors
afrol News, 21 September - Rescue officials have called off the search for survivors or bodies of illegal immigrants whose boat capsized between Morocc and Spain.
The search headed by Spanish rescuers, was called off last night with only 11 survivors, including seven women, rescued and 8 bodies recovered. Of the survivors, four were said to be admitted in hospital while the rest would await a court appearance in Tangiers.
The boat which is believed to have been carrying 60 people on board, capsized on the early hours Saturday, just 200 off the Moroccan coast. The immigrants were said to be head to Spain.
Thousands of people seeking a better life in Europe brave the rough seas from Africa to the Canary Islands or the Spanish mainland in overcrowded boats. Most are caught and hundreds die along the way.
But increased surveillance has meant the number of migrants reaching the Canary Islands has dropped from almost 32,000 in 2006 to about 9,000 in 2008.
Police say African migrants pay on average Ł1,000 to trafficking gangs to reach the Moroccan coast. However, many are now being turned back following increased surveillance of African coastal waters by local and European vessels.
More than 500 undocumented migrants in Morocco from several sub-Saharan African countries were offered voluntary return earlier this year under the auspices of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
The migrants, mostly young people from Congo Brazzaville, Ivory Coast, Guinea Conakry and the Democratic Republic of Congo, have requested aid from the IOM after having spent years isolated in Morocco without adequate resources.
Since 2005, over 1,800 undocumented migrants from 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have benefited from the programme of voluntary return.
With new funding from the European Commission, Italy, Switzerland and United Kingdom, another 1,000 immigrants are eligible for aid for the return and reintegration during the 12 months programme.
By staff writer
© afrol News
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