We've made it! Relief for 27 immigrants rescued by Spanish Coast Guard as they sailed toy dinghies across Strait of Gibraltar
Migrants began to swim towards Spanish Coast Guard when they realised a boat from Morocco was also coming to rescue them
17:38 GMT, 3 December 2012
Relief etched on their face, these African immigrants say goodbye to their inflatable dinghy, and hello to the reassuring sturdiness of the a Coast Guard boat.
Spanish officials say Coast Guard vessels from southern Spain and Morocco have rescued 27 migrants on four inflatable dinghies in the Strait of Gibraltar in the last 24 hours.
Officials said some of the migrants trying to reach Spain from Morocco jumped into the sea when the two countries' rescue vessels approached them Monday.
They were desperate to be picked up by the closer Spanish boats that would take them to Europe – instead of back to North Africa.
One man raises his hands to the sky, while another makes a phone call
Saved: A would-be immigrant is helped to get on board a Spanish emergency services boat off the Spanish coast
Smiles: The men were relieved at the end of their drift – but whether they will receive asylum is a different story
Each year thousands of suspected illegal immigrants from Africa risk their lives trying to reach Europe on small, flimsy boats.
authorities said their vessels took 19 sub-Saharan men and two women to
the port of Cadiz in southern Spain. Some were suffering from
Whether they will find a new home on this side of the Mediterranean is not known.
The six others were picked up by Moroccan rescuers and taken to Tangier.
is believed that the men are all from sub-Saharan Africa and were on
the final stages of an epic journey which saw them cross the desert on
their way to the Moroccan coast.
Strait of Gibraltar separates Spain and Morocco by around nine miles – a
ferry ride between the two continents takes roughly 35 minutes.
Due to its location it is one of the key smuggling routes for illegal immigrants crossing into Europe.
The Moroccan navy intercepted four inflatable boats carrying sub-Saharan would-be immigrants accross the Strait of Gibraltar
A would-be immigrant prays after boarding the boat of the Spanish emergency services in the Strait of Gibraltar
A member fo the Spanish emergency services helps one of the men aboard the ship
The Spanish emergency services patrol the seas and keep an eye out for inflatable boats carrying sub-Saharan immigrants
Officials said some of the migrants trying to reach Spain from Morocco jumped into the sea when the two countries' rescue vessels approached them
Close: The Strait of Gibraltar separates Spain and Morocco by around nine miles