Migrant boat missing off Spain

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Spanish rescue services are searching for at least 20 people missing from a migrant boat found adrift in the Mediterranean after a passenger ferry rescued 27 people still aboard.

The number of migrants arriving in Europe by sea, declining steadily since 2015, has fallen further this year as the European Union focuses on border control.

The migrant boat was reported missing on Tuesday with 49 people on board after setting off from north-eastern Morocco, rescue services said. A passenger ship found the boat on Wednesday, rescuing 27 people, six later evacuated by helicopter.

Irregular sea arrivals from the Middle East and North Africa dropped from over a million in 2015 to a little over 140,000 people last year, United Nations data shows. Fewer than 23,000 refugees and migrants made it across the sea to Europe so far this year.

This week rights group the Council of Europe said the EU was violating international law with an increasingly restrictive stance on immigration and called on the bloc to step up sea rescues.