Cellphones, teenagers on migrant route to Europe

A life vest or, as a cheaper substitute, the inflated inner-tube of a tire are among the few items that migrants carry these days when they arrive on the shores of southern Spain.

Shoes, clothes and cash are often lost along the journey. Identity documents and, increasingly, cellphones make the trip.

Wrapped in plastic to resist the salt waters of the Strait of Gibraltar, the cellphones are crucial links to humanitarian groups and maritime authorities, so those crossing the dangerous waters can send their locations for rescues.

A migrant rests at the port of Tarifa, southern Spain, as he waits to be transported to a police station after being rescued by Spain's Maritime Rescue Service in the Strait of Gibraltar, Wednesday, June 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Once ashore, the soaked but power-drained batteries are laid on the ground to absorb the warmth of the sun, which many believe will give the phones a few seconds of extra life to contact their relatives.

Emergency makeshift relief centers now dot Spain’s southern coast, testament to a surge in arrivals by sea as Italy’s clampdown sends migrants further westward.

Far-right, nationalist and populist politicians have gained ground in both Rome and Berlin, prompting the European Union to re-examine its migration policies. Last week EU leaders struck a deal on migration that most human rights organizations and activists call insufficient.

In this Thursday, June 28, 2018 photo, a rubber dinghy used by Moroccan migrants, is seen near Tarifa, in the south of Spain. The route from northern Africa into Spain has become the most popular for those seeking a better life in Europe, testing Spain’s response networks as the migration debate re-emerges in the region. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

In Spain, meanwhile, about 15,000 migrants have already entered this year via the short but treacherous trip across the strait, the International Organization for Migration says. The trip is less than 9 miles (14 kilometers) from Morocco to Spain’s southern beach town of Tarifa.

Over 2,700 more migrants crossed into Spain by land in its North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.

Disoriented and exhausted, groups of mostly men and teenagers, with some women with newborns, debark from the rescue boats. They shiver from the cold journey but are mostly grateful for the rescuers.

In this Wednesday, June 27, 2018 photo, Guardia Civil officers speak with migrants confined at a makeshift emergency center at the port of Barbate, southern Spain, after being rescued by Spain's Maritime Rescue Service in the Strait of Gibraltar. The route from northern Africa into Spain has become the most popular for those seeking a better life in Europe, testing Spain’s response networks as the migration debate re-emerges in the region. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

While most sub-Saharan migrants hope to be picked up by Spanish rescuers as soon as they leave Morocco’s territorial waters, some try desperately to get all the way to an Andalusian beach in order to evade near-certain deportation.

As Associated Press journalists found out last week during a trip to document the uptick in Mediterranean Sea arrivals, that situation causes tensions between rescuers and migrants. Often, migrants refuse help or jump out from rescue vessels as they enter the Spanish ports of Tarifa, Barbate or Algeciras.

To avoid clashes, civil guard officials have begun sailing alongside rescuers. Last Friday, an Italian coast guard ship operated by Frontex, the European border agency, escorted a Spanish rescue boat to the entrance to Tarifa’s port. On arrival, its Moroccan passengers — including women and children — were seen bound to each other by their wrists.

Migrants lay on the ground exhausted at the port of Tarifa, southern Spain, after being rescued by Spain's Maritime Rescue Service in the Strait of Gibraltar, Friday, June. 29, 2018. European Union leaders declared victory Friday, claiming to have set aside major differences over how best to handle migrant arrivals as they commissioned new plans to screen people in North Africa for eligibility to enter Europe. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

The situation has also prompted a surge of rubber boats carrying exclusively Moroccan teenagers who, as underage unaccompanied migrants, are allowed to remain under the care of authorities until they can reunite with relatives already living in Europe.

On June 29, a group of 34 of them arrived in a secluded beach near Tarifa. They were jubilant, cold and hungry when police, Red Cross volunteers and journalists found them near an old lighthouse.

Their boat lay deflated on the sand, at the mercy of the surging tide.

Migrants rest at the port of Algeciras, southern Spain, after being rescued in the Strait of Gibraltar, Tuesday, Jun. 26, 2018. Spain's Maritime Rescue Service says it has picked up just over 400 people from the Mediterranean as migrants hasten to reach Spain from North Africa while the weather remains fair. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Migrants rest at the port of Algeciras, southern Spain, after being rescued in the Strait of Gibraltar, Tuesday, Jun. 26, 2018. Spain's Maritime Rescue Service says it has picked up just over 400 people from the Mediterranean as migrants hasten to reach Spain from North Africa while the weather remains fair. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Wet telephones and Morocco notes belonging to migrants are seen laying on the floor drying under the sun at the port of Tarifa, southern Spain, after being rescued by Spain's Maritime Rescue Service in the Strait of Gibraltar, Friday, June 29, 2018. European Union leaders declared victory Friday, claiming to have set aside major differences over how best to handle migrant arrivals as they commissioned new plans to screen people in North Africa for eligibility to enter Europe. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

In this Wednesday, June 27, 2018 photo, a rescue member moors a rubber dinghy used by migrants, at the port of Tarifa, southern Spain. The route from northern Africa into Spain has become the most popular for those seeking a better life in Europe, testing Spain’s response networks as the migration debate re-emerges in the region. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

A Guardia Civil officer stands next to Moroccan migrants as they line up by the Camarinal Lighthouse after arriving on the beach by sailing in a rubber dinghy near Tarifa, in the south of Spain, Thursday, June 28, 2018. The group consisted of 35 unaccompanied Moroccan migrants. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

A baby is taken by rescue members at the port of Barbate, southern Spain, after being rescued by Spain's Maritime Rescue Service in the Strait of Gibraltar, Wednesday, June 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

In this Wednesday, June 27, 2018 photo, a migrant rests at the port of Tarifa, southern Spain, as he waits to be transported to a police station after being rescued by Spain's Maritime Rescue Service in the Strait of Gibraltar. The route from northern Africa into Spain has become the most popular for those seeking a better life in Europe, testing Spain’s response networks as the migration debate re-emerges in the region. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Guardia Civil officers stand guard as migrants gather at a makeshift emergency center for migrants at Barbate's municipal sports center, in the south of Spain, after being rescued by Spain's Maritime Rescue Service in the Strait of Gibraltar, Thursday, June 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Moroccan migrants are handcuffed by Guardia Civil officers as they arrive at the port of Tarifa, southern Spain, after being rescued by Spain's Maritime Rescue Service in the Strait of Gibraltar, Friday, June 29, 2018. European Union leaders declared victory Friday, claiming to have set aside major differences over how best to handle migrant arrivals as they commissioned new plans to screen people in North Africa for eligibility to enter Europe. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Migrants sleep at a makeshift emergency center for migrants at Barbate's municipal sports center, in the south of Spain, after being rescued by Spain's Maritime Rescue Service in the Strait of Gibraltar, Wednesday, June 27, 2018. Authorities in Southern Spain are setting up makeshift emergency centers for African migrants rescued in waters of the Mediterranean Sea as they hasten to cross into Europe. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Civil protection workers distribute biscuits to people who are staying at a makeshift emergency center for migrants at Barbate's municipal sports center, in the south of Spain, after being rescued by Spain's Maritime Rescue Service in the Strait of Gibraltar, Thursday, June. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Inflatable dinghies and tires used as floats by migrants are seen at the port of Tarifa, southern Spain, after being rescued by Spain's Maritime Rescue Service in the Strait of Gibraltar, Friday, June 29, 2018. European Union leaders declared victory Friday, claiming to have set aside major differences over how best to handle migrant arrivals as they commissioned new plans to screen people in North Africa for eligibility to enter Europe. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Migrants rest at the port of Algeciras, southern Spain, as they wait to be transported to a police station after being rescued in the Strait of Gibraltar, Tuesday, Jun. 26, 2018. Spain's Maritime Rescue Service says it has picked up just over 400 people from the Mediterranean as migrants hasten to reach Spain from North Africa while the weather remains fair. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)


Text from story AP story, AP PHOTOS: Cellphones, teenagers on migrant route to Europe, by Aritz Parra.

Photos Emilio Morenatti