Eleven lifeless bodies were found on Monday off the Spanish island of Cabrera in the Balearic Islands, the region’s prefecture announced.
Authorities said three people were rescued and 11 bodies found after a sailboat was reported west of Cabrera.
Authorities, who have given very few details yet, were unable to confirm the bodies were those of migrants.
But the number of migrant arrivals, often from Algeria, on the archipelago or in the south-east of Spain has exploded in recent months. Nearly 300 of them were rescued between Monday and Friday off the Balearic Islands.
While controls have been stepped up in the Strait of Gibraltar, which separates Spain from Morocco, the migratory route of the “harragas”, the Arab nickname given to illegal migrants from Algeria, has multiplied, according to NGOs and authorities.
It can be over 200 km long and is more dangerous at this time of year, because the sea is much less favorable than in summer.
Women and children
In mid-September, the bodies of eight migrants from Algeria or Morocco, including a child and three women, were found by the Spanish authorities on the beaches of the province of Almeria, in the south-eastern part of the peninsula. .
Last week, a pregnant Algerian woman and her five children were rescued off the coast of the southeastern province of Alicante, further north.
Several NGOs welcoming migrants on the eastern and southern coasts of Spain recently reported an increase in the proportion of women and minors.
For these migrants, Spain is only a stopover, their final destination generally being France.
A total of 13,320 migrants arrived on the Spanish mainland or the Balearic coasts between January and the end of September, i.e. 2,104 (19%) more than in the same period last year, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Interior.
Another 13,118 reached the Canary Islands, off the African coast, more than double the 6,124 who arrived during the same period in 2020.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 2021 is “the deadliest year on the migratory route to Spain” with at least 1,025 people dying while trying to reach mainland Spain, the Canary Islands or the Balearic Islands.
The road to the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean is particularly deadly. At least 785 people died trying to reach the archipelago from West Africa between January and August 2021, according to IOM.
The NGO Caminando Fronteras, which relies on the testimonies of migrants or their families, estimates that more than 2,000 people died or disappeared while trying to reach the Canaries in 2021.