A coastal crisis

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AFRICAN IMMIGRANTS: More than 100 rescued so far in 2017.

DETENTION centres are bursting at the seams as more African immigrants arrive on the shores of the Costa del Sol than ever before. Police stations have become make-shift migrant camps after more than 100 people were rescued in the first few days of 2017. 

Coast guards rescued 102 people in Malaga waters from January 1-3, while 2016 saw more arrivals than ever recorded. A total of 773 immigrants sailed to the Costa del Sol, more than triple the 207 who landed in 2015. At the height of the crisis in 2013 just 16 people made it. 

That is just the tip of the iceberg. Across Andalucia coast guards rescued an unprecedented 258 people in just the first 72 hours of 2017. In 2016 a record 6,099 immigrants docked across Andalucia, more than all the other Spanish provinces combined. 

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Many of the immigrants who have landed in recent days will simply be released. Strict Spanish laws mean it is illegal to hold people without cause for more than 72 hours. The ‘Foreigner’s Centres cannot take any more pressure, meaning many are being let loose without even a cursory paperwork check. Spain promised to make room for 18,000 people, but in reality there is little space left and the Costa will bear the brunt of the consequences. 

Due to large scale surveillance and the tourist population, the Costa del Sol has typically been avoided by human traffickers who favour the quieter Cadiz and Almeria coastlines. But wars and turmoil south of the Sahara desert, plus growing greed among the various mafias has led to a devil-may-care-attitude. 

Thousands of people, chiefly young men looking for work, are willing to pay their life savings for a place aboard the perilous journey. Joining the more than 4,000 who drowned sailing the Mediterranean last year it is a risk they will take.

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