Record number of migrants reach Canary Islands

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Migrants arriving to the Canary Islands


LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA – At least 812 migrants have arrived in the Canary Islands in the last 24 hours. They arrived aboard 11 different boats to the islands of El Hierro, Lanzarote, La Gomera, Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria.

This has been confirmed by Salvamento Marítimo and other emergency aid organisations. The last boats arrived in El Hierro and Lanzarote in the late afternoon and evening of Thursday, with one boat arriving in Fuerteventura. This last boat, with 58 people on board, came from Sub-Saharan Africa. Of the 46 on board, 46 were men and 12 were women, two of whom were minors. Two other boats, with 53 and 41 people on board, were rescued by the special rescue boat Guardamar Polimnia and taken to Puerto Naos on Lanzarote.

Highest number this week

The 812 people who arrived represent the highest number of migrants to reach the Canary Islands this week. In total, about 1,100 migrants arrived in four days.

Increase in arrivals on islands

After a relatively quiet 2022, the Canary Islands route has seen a strong upturn in the number of arrivals since June. The previous record for arrivals was set in 2006, when 31,678 migrants landed on the coast of the Canary Islands.

The small island of El Hierro with 11,400 inhabitants surprisingly has the largest number of arrivals. By the first week of October, it had already received around 5,000 people, almost half of whom arrived in that first week. However, official data indicates that Lanzarote, the island closest to Africa, has the highest number of arrivals throughout the year, with 5,300 migrants.

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The forecast is that the number of arrivals in the Canary Islands in 2023 will exceed that of the second most active year 2020. However, the current situation is very different from three years ago.

Other migration flows to the Balearic Islands

In addition to the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands are also experiencing an influx of migrants. Nine boats arrived there, 6 in Mallorca and 3 in Ibiza, with a total of 119 undocumented migrants.

Unrest in Senegal

Of all arrivals in the Canary Islands, Senegal has become the most important departure point. The main factor contributing to this revival is not only the favourable conditions at sea, but also the situation in Senegal. The country has been undergoing a political and social crisis since June, endangering its previously stable democracy.

With nearly 40% of Senegalese’s 12.5 million living below the poverty line, the country faces widespread social discontent, especially among young people. Violent protests have erupted following the jailing of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, seen as a symbol of hope for many Senegalese youth. These protests were met with repression by the security forces. Migrants arriving in the Canary Islands from Senegal report economic hardship and repression because of their political beliefs.

Also read: Historic EU migration deal on the way during summit in Granada

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