At least seven people have drowned when a group of 200 migrants tried swimming from the Moroccan mainland to Morocco’s Spanish enclave of Ceuta.
Hundreds of African migrants regularly attempt to swim along the coast or climb the fence that separates the Spanish territory from Morocco.
Ceuta is seen as a stepping stone to a better life in Europe for many migrants from Africa who often risk their lives trying to enter the tiny Spanish enclave.
There are rescues and drownings almost every week off the coast of Morocco.
Ceuta is just 15 kilometres across the sea from the Spanish mainland.
Meanwhile, near Lampedusa the Italian navy rescued more than 1,000people from large rafts in the water south of Sicily, the latest arrivals from north Africa.
Italy is another major gateway into Europe for migrants. Sea arrivals more than tripled last year fuelled largely by Syria’s civil war and strife in the Horn of Africa.
Over the past two decades, Italy, Greece and the Mediterranean island of Malta have borne the brunt of migrant flows. The countries have urged the EU to make a more robust and coordinated response.
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