ARRECIFE – 2023 begins as 2022 ended with the arrival of four boats carrying more than 100 immigrants from Morocco. Although the route connecting the African continent to the Canary Islands is the most dangerous migration route, it remains popular.
Mafia bet heavily on this route and many sub-Saharan Africans head to Morocco to venture across from there. The route has already killed thousands of people. This time, one of the perilous adventures ended well after the Spanish Coast Guard rescued another boat on the high seas. Furthermore, 33 immigrants of North African descent travelled in this. The Coast Guard took them to Arrecife, where they were taken care of in good health by Red Cross volunteers.
However, it wasn’t the only salvation at the start of the new year. Coastal authorities were also able to report the arrival of another boat with at least 44 people on board. This was also from Morocco. They were taken to the commercial dock in Arrecife around 11.00 am.
Furthermore, a large canoe with eight people on board was accompanied by a jet ski to Granadilla on Tenerife. The boat was sighted near La Tejita beach and was accompanied by the driver of a jet ski that was near Los Abrigos dock. There, the migrants were received by staff from the Red Cross and the emergency service of the Canary Islands (SUC).
The Coast Guard found another canoe with eight migrants in the afternoon. They were transferred to the La Restinga pier in El Hierro. Most were in good general health according to a report in El Dia newspaper. However, 3 people on board had to be transferred to medical centres with various health problems.
Less popular but no less deadly
Fewer migrants took the irregular immigration route from southern Morocco and Western Sahara to the Canary Islands due to heightened surveillance by the authorities. Despite this, the journey to the archipelago remains one of the deadliest to reach Europe.
Fewer irregular arrivals
Since the beginning of 2022 (with data up to December 15), 15,466 people have entered the Canary Islands irregularly, compared to 20,603 for the entire previous year. According to El País, this is evident from information published by the Ministry of the Interior.
Related: Excessive violence used against migrants by Spain and Morocco
The improved diplomatic relationship between Morocco and Spain following the Spanish government’s approval of the Moroccan autonomy plan for Western Sahara last March has helped contain irregular immigration to Spain.
An average of six people per day die
For the past five years, an average of six people per day have been killed trying to reach the coasts of Spain in dangerous boats. This is evident from a report by the NGO Caminando Fronteras that was presented in Barcelona in mid-December.
11,286 dead on routes to Spain
Since 2018, 11,286 people from African countries have lost their lives on the various migration routes, concludes the organisation that specialises in reporting and warning about rescues and shipwrecks. Of the deceased, 70% correspond to the route of the Canary Islands.
In 2022 (2,154 dead as of 30 November), shipwreck deaths have fallen to 2020 levels (2,384) after peaking in 2021 (4,639) before the diplomatic rapprochement between Madrid and Rabat.
See also: Migration route by sea to the Canary Islands was deadliest in 2021
The figures on dead and missing are an approximation and vary by source. The International Organisation for Migration, which is dependent on the UN, is more conservative in its calculations.