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Immigration pamphlet: Photo: Metin Ozer

Spanish archipelago sees explosion in illegal arrivals from Africa

More than 1 600 African migrants arrived this weekend on the coasts of the Spanish Canary Islands in 48 hours, suggesting a pace of unprecedented magnitude, said local emergency services.

Published: November 9, 2020, 9:00 am

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    On Saturday alone, more than a thousand people disembarked aboard twenty precarious boats in the islands of Gran Canaria, Tenerife and El Hierro, a spokeswoman for the emergency services told AFP.

    Gran Canaria and Tenerife are the two islands the furthest (250 to 300 km) from the African coast, according to the Red Cross.

    A spokesman for the Red Cross said the migrants were from North Africa or sub-Saharan Africa and that they were in good health, despite “some” hypothermia which was “not serious”. The body of a migrant was recovered on the island of El Hierro.

    For several months already, African migrants have resumed the route of the Canaries rather than the Mediterranean due to EU border control agreements concluded with Libya, Turkey and Morocco. The Spanish archipelago located off the northwestern coast of Africa has seen an explosion in the arrivals of illegal migrants, more than 11 000 since the start of the year.

    From January 1 to September 30, 6 081 migrants had thus arrived in the Canaries, six or seven times more than for the same period of 2019, according to the Spanish Ministry of the Interior.

    Faced with this illegal immigration, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson had advocated, on Friday during a visit to the archipelago, an increase in returns to the countries of origin of migrants not benefiting from refugee status, Le Figaro reported.

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