LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA – The crossing to the Canary Islands is known as one of the most dangerous routes in the world. Despite this, the number of migrants arriving has been increasing for months and has now reached a record high.
Until last Saturday, 31,686 people have reached the Spanish archipelago, more than in the entire year of 2006, which was the record year to date. Then 31,678 refugees arrived, according to the Spanish news agency EFE. The route between Africa and the Spanish archipelago is known as the deadliest. Migrants travel hundreds of kilometres and often miss the islands, resulting in death.
The President of the Canary Islands, Fernando Clavijo, speaks of a ‘humanitarian emergency’. He emphasises that managing migration at the southern border of Spain and Europe must be a priority.
Last weekend, four boats carrying more than 490 people arrived at El Hierro, the westernmost of the Canary Islands, according to reports. Four of them lost their lives, two on board and two in hospital.
This strong increase has already become clear in recent months. From January 1 to October 15, 23,537 migrants arrived on the islands, 80% more than in the same period last year.
Political and economic unrest in Senegal is a major cause of the increase. Many arrivals are fishermen, affected by an economic crisis. The capture of a Senegalese opposition leader, a symbol of hope for many, strengthens the urge to migrate.
Spain increases reception capacity
Spain has significantly increased reception capacity on the islands. Concerns over rising numbers are calling for EU help. Spain is deploying additional aircraft to monitor migration routes. The Spanish government emphasises the need for European cooperation to tackle the situation. Without EU support, an adequate response to the growing flow of migrants seems impossible.