NGOs have been rescuing migrants from the Mediterranean but anti-immigration groups argue groups such as MSF encourage people to risk the route to Europe.

Migrants on a dinghy are rescued by German NGO Jugend Rettet's ship, Juventa, in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Libya on June 18, 2017
Migrants on a dinghy are rescued by German NGO Jugend Rettet's ship, Juventa, in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Libya on June 18, 2017 (TRT World and Agencies)

Crossing the Mediterranean to Italy is now the most-used sea route for migrants and refugees trying to reach Europe – with more than 180,000 landing in Italy in 2016.

The crossing is, however, fraught with dangers. Thousands escaping brutal war or poverty in their countries of origin have perished at sea while trying to reach the shores of the Europe, be it at the hands of traffickers or the mercy of inclement weather.

And while the vessels of Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) or other NGOs have been rescuing people from the sea, the very same groups are being accused of encouraging vulnerable populations to risk crossing the Mediterranean. The argument? Refugees and migrants take the perilous journey knowing rescue boats are waiting to pick them up.

But not all ships in the Mediterranean are out to rescue refugees. The C-Star is operated by Defend Europe, an anti-immigrant group. Sailing around the Mediterranean, its aim is to return migrant and refugee boats to Africa.

TRT World's Abubakr Al-Shamahi explores the battle between the ships that seek to rescue people coming from Africa and one that is trying to stop them.

Spain faces migration challenge

Spain could overtake Greece this year in the number of migrants arriving by sea, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Thursday, coming shore on boats and even jet-skis.

Holiday makers on a beach in southern Spain Wednesday were stunned when a black rubber boat full of migrants reached the shore, its occupants jumping out and running away as scores of sun-worshippers looked on.

On the same day, 12 migrants arrived in waters off the Spanish territory of Ceuta in northern Morocco on jet-skis, with one -- a 28-year-old man from Guinea -- drowning before he could be rescued, authorities said.

According to the IOM's latest figures, until August 6, close to 8,200 migrants had arrived in Spain so far this year.

That is more than triple the number recorded at the same time last year, according to Joel Millman, a senior IOM spokesman, and already more than the total arrivals in 2016.

TRT World's Nafisa Latic takes a look at the numbers.

While the figure pales in comparison with Italy -- where more than 96,400 migrants have landed so far this year -- Spain is catching up with Greece where 11,713 alighted from boats in the same timeframe.

The number of sea arrivals, however, doesn't take into account those coming into Ceuta and Melilla, two Spanish territories in northern Morocco, by land.

Source: TRT World