A group of 68 illegal immigrants, among them 17 women and three minors, arrived by sea Sunday on Isla de Tierra, a Spanish islet located in the Alhucemas archipelago off Morocco's Mediterranean coast.
It was the largest group of undocumented migrants to arrive to date on the rocky outcrops or small islands under Spanish sovereignty in North Africa.
According to what local police told Efe, the migrants, most of whom were of Sub-Saharan origin, arrived on the tiny island, where another 13 migrants had already come ashore, on Sunday morning.
Almost at the same time, another 60 Sub-Saharan immigrants tried - apparently unsuccessfully - to get over the border fence at Melilla, an autonomous Spanish city on the northern Moroccan coast located about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Isla de Tierra.
Officials with the Spanish Interior Ministry told Efe that the three minors in the group of 68 migrants will be transferred to Melilla in the coming hours given that they are the most vulnerable among the group, while the rest will remain on the islet waiting for Spanish and Moroccan authorities to arrive at a solution to the dilemma they pose.
Isla de Tierra made the news last Wednesday when 19 migrants arrived there in a barge.
Six of them - three babies and three women, one of whom was pregnant and the other two of whom had small children with them - were transported to Melilla, while the other 13 remained on the island, which up to the time of their arrival had been uninhabited.
The Spanish military garrison stationed at Peñon de Alhucemas, which is near Isla de Tierra, took charge of supplying blankets, fresh water and food to the 13 migrants who remained on the island until the arrival of this new group.
The Spanish government delegate in Melilla, Abdelmalik El Barkani, said Sunday that the arrival of the migrants was a "perfectly coordinated and orchestrated" act by the criminal groups who traffic in human beings and put their lives at risk, including the lives of children.
El Barkani said that the "delicate" situation unfolding on the Isla de Tierra since Aug. 29, when the first group of 19 migrants arrived, brings "out into the open" the need to coordinate an immigration policy - including to a greater degree than heretofore the European Union - that disrupts the business of human trafficking rings. EFE