Spanish rescue boats have saved more than 700 refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe.
Three boats belonging to the Spanish coastguard saved 769 people in total on Saturday.
The majority was found between the North African coast and the island of Mallorca, while others were saved on their way to the Canary Islands, west of Africa.
Hoy sábado, 769 #personas rescatadas de 25 pateras: #Estrecho 298 rescatados/17 pateras + #Alborán 342 rescatados/7 pateras + #Canarias 129 rescatados/1 cayuco. En la fotografía… una de las pateras rescatadas hoy. GRACIAS! a todos los que han colaborado a salvar sus vidas… pic.twitter.com/luWQRGHNLK
— SALVAMENTO MARÍTIMO (@salvamentogob) June 23, 2018
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Spain has become increasingly popular for refugees to enter Europe over the last couple of months.
In 2017, the organisation registered 3,326 people from entering Spain between January and April. This year, that amount has risen to 4,627, the highest number yet.
The increase comes as Italy’s new populist government has made attempts to clamp down on refugees entering the country.
Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, also the head of the far-right League party, is making good on an election promise to go after rescue ships run by aid groups, which he has likened to taxi services that help people-smugglers.
On Friday, Italy doubled down on its tough stance against migrants, insisting it could not take “one more” refugee and warning the migration crisis could put the EU‘s survival at stake.
Italy’s new stance has led to renewed political tension within the EU.
On Sunday, European leaders will gather in Brussels to discuss the need for changes to its migration policies.
Although the number of refugees arriving in Europe has gone down significantly this year compared to previous, the issue has resulted in a political crisis.
Central and Eastern European countries especially have opposed the European policies of resettling refugees across the continent.
The issue has led to a political crisis in Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel has received criticism from her own party for Germany’s open stance in the refugee issue.