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Over 400 migrants rescued off coast of Spain’s Canary Islands

Number of migrants taking dangerous journey to Spanish archipelago more than doubled this year

Alyssa McMurtry   | 16.09.2021
Over 400 migrants rescued off coast of Spain’s Canary Islands FILE PHOTO

MADRID

The Canary Islands Emergency Services rescued 408 irregular migrants off the coast of the Spanish archipelago in 24 hours, according to data compiled on Thursday.

The emergency services reported intercepting 10 small boats that had made the treacherous Atlantic Sea journey from North Africa. Most of the arrivals were of North African descent, although at least 86 came from Subsaharan Africa.

According to Spain’s Interior Ministry, more than 11,000 irregular migrants have reached the Canary Islands by sea this year. At the same time last year, the figure was just over 5,000.

Last year, in October and November, when the migration route tends to become most active, the Canary Islands were unable to cope with the massive influx of migrants.

At one point, more than 2,700 migrants were held for days in a makeshift camp on the Arguineguin pier. The setup was condemned by several activist groups for inhumane treatment and illegalities.

In all of 2019, 2,698 irregular migrants reached the Canary Islands by boat.

Due to the dramatic increase in arrivals so far this year, local authorities are bracing for an unprecedented surge in arrivals in the months to come.

This summer has already seen a record number of deaths on the perilous maritime route, with an average of seven people dying each day. According to UN data seen by Spanish daily El Publico and other local media outlets, at least 654 people lost their lives making the journey to the Canary Islands from June through August.

“We are seeing the highest number of mortal victims in the last ten years and we still have not reached the months of October and November,” Txema Santana, an advisor on migrations to the Canary Islands government, told El Periodico.

“The route has become much more feminized. We aren’t just seeing young men looking for better lives anymore. Now, there are more families who are fleeing from very fragile countries, some of which are experiencing armed conflict and situations made worse by the pandemic,” he explained.

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