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At least 44 migrants drown as boat capsizes off Morocco coast: Aid agency

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At least 44 migrants, including women and infants, drowned this week off Morocco’s coast as they tried to reach Spain, migrant aid agency Caminando Fronteras has said.

Quoting relatives of the victims, it said the bodies of five women and two babies were brought ashore but the rest were still missing.

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“Tragedy. At least 44 victims drowned off the coast of Tarfaya (southern Morocco),” the aid agency’s Helena Maleno tweeted on Saturday.

They were among 61 migrants who boarded a boat heading for Spain’s Canary Islands, around 100 kilometers (62 miles) away from Tarfaya, she said.

A total of 16 women and six infants were among those on board, Maleno said.

“The bodies of three women and two babies are now at the morgue of Laayoune,” the main city in the disputed Western Sahara territory.

The North African kingdom of Morocco is a key transit point on routes taken by migrants hoping for better lives on European shores.

According to the Spanish interior ministry, more than 40,000 migrants arrived in the country by sea in 2021.

The European Union said this week it wanted to bolster cooperation with Morocco to stem the flow of illegal migrants entering the bloc, amid a sharp jump in attempts to reach the Canary Islands -- a gateway to the EU.

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