Almost 1300 migrants reach Canary Islands

Almost 1300 African migrants arrived in the Canary Islands last weekend. One weekend earlier, according to emergency services, more than 1600 refugees came ashore, a number that had not been seen on the Spanish islands for more than ten years.

The number of boat refugees coming from North and West Africa to the Spanish archipelago via the Atlantic Ocean has risen sharply this year. Since January, about 17,000 migrants have been able to reach the islands. An earlier peak was in 2006, when more than 30,000 migrants arrived.

This weekend it was about 1275 people spread over 42 wooden boats. Often drought, poverty, unemployment, violence and the coronapandemic are the reason for making the dangerous voyage by sea to Europe. Many of them leave from Morocco and Mauritania. Part of it also departs from Senegal, more than 1500 kilometres away.

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Most migrants are taken to the port of Arguineguin on Gran Canaria for a corontest and registration. Around that port almost 2000 people live in an improvised tent camp. On Saturday, Gran Canaria was demonstrated against the appalling conditions in the camp.

After registration, the migrants stay in vacant hotels, but the tourism industry is not happy about that. Ten days ago, the government in Madrid announced that it would close the camp at the port and open a residence centre, but it has not yet begun.