The Moroccan navy intercepted more than fifty migrants from sub-Saharan Africa off the southern coast of Morocco on Tuesday, amid a growing number of deadly illegal crossing attempts to Spain, a Moroccan military source said.
"A Royal Navy unit on patrol off Tan-Tan on Tuesday assisted 56 would-be irregular migrants from sub-Saharan Africa aboard a makeshift boat," the military source was quoted by the MAP news agency as saying.
The migrants "received first aid on board, before being transported safe and sound to the port of Tan-Tan, then handed over to the gendarmerie for the usual administrative procedures", it added.
On Monday, the Moroccan coastguard announced that it had recovered the bodies of five Senegalese migrants and rescued 189 others whose boats had capsized on Saturday off Guerguerat, a town in Western Sahara, in the far south of Morocco.
At least 13 Senegalese migrants perished in mid-July when their pirogue sank off the Moroccan coast, according to local Senegalese authorities.
On July 25, the Moroccan Human Rights Association (AMDH) reported the death of five Moroccan migrants in a shipwreck off the coast of Western Sahara.
A few days earlier, six Moroccan would-be emigrants had drowned while attempting to cross to Spain off the coast of Nador province (northern Morocco), according to local authorities and the AMDH.
Located at the north-western tip of Africa, Morocco is a transit country for many migrants seeking to reach Europe from its Atlantic or Mediterranean coasts.
NGOs regularly report fatal shipwrecks in Moroccan, Spanish, and international waters, with unofficial figures numbering dozens, if not hundreds, of deaths.
Moroccan authorities claim to have foiled 26,000 attempts at irregular emigration during the first five months of 2023.
Another migration route from North Africa, the central Mediterranean -- between the coasts of Libya and Tunisia, and Italy -- is the world's most dangerous, with more than 20,000 deaths since 2014, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).