BERLIN (AP): Spain’s maritime rescue service says it has rescued 366 migrants attempting the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea this weekend.
The service says that its rescue craft has intercepted 73 migrants traveling in four small boats on Sunday, adding to the 293 migrants it pulled from nine vessels on Saturday.
Driven out by violent conflict and extreme poverty, tens of thousands of migrants attempt to reach Spain and other southern European countries each year by crossing the Mediterranean in smugglers’ boats. Most of the boats are unfit for open water, and thousands drown.
The U.N. says 636 migrants have died crossing the Mediterranean so far this year. A total of 22,439 migrants reached European shores, with 4,409 arriving in Spain, through the first four months of 2018.
Austria’s chancellor says European border guards should be allowed to go to North Africa to prevent migrants from setting off across the Mediterranean Sea in rickety boats.
Austria will take over the European Union’s rotating presidency in July. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s governing coalition took office in December after a campaign in which both partners talked tough on migration.
Kurz told Sunday’s edition of German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that a new mandate for EU border protection agency Frontex should allow it “to act in third countries, with the permission of their governments, to end smugglers’ dirty business model and prevent smugglers’ boats setting off on the dangerous route across the Mediterranean.”
Each year, tens of thousands attempt to reach Europe in vessels that are mostly unfit for the open sea.