A huge influx of African Immigrants into the Canary Islands over the weekend has created chaos for the local authorities to deal with.
It has been reported that during the 2 day period over the weekend, around 1600 immigrants landed via at least 20 boats, onto Tenerife, Gran Canaria and El Hierro, some of the various islands that make up the Canaries.
Such a large number of arrivals in such a short period of time has not occurred for the past 10 years, and it has therefore placed a big strain on the local authorities who have to somehow control this situation.
Calm waters in the Atlantic Ocean, between the African coast and the Canaries clearly gave a good opportunity for some of these boat skippers with normally quite unseaworthy crafts, to cross what is normally a very rough sea, to take advantage of this window in the weather, and take the risk of trying and make the crossing before the seas became rough again, with a storm reportedly building off the coast of Africa at this moment.
Unconfirmed reports are that one of the boat skippers has been arrested after 16 bodies were found in his boat, after the treacherous journey these immigrants undertook, and the Canary Islands emergency services reportedly retrieved one dead body from the waters off the coast of El Hierro.
Conflicting stories surround what happens to the immigrants upon reaching their destination, but we have heard from a very reliable source on one of the islands, who is witnessing the immigrant influx first-hand, that all of the immigrants are processed to know their details and place of origin, and given a thorough health check, to test them for any signs of the coronavirus especially, and any that show symptoms are taken into isolation locations to be monitored.
We were told by our source that the immigrants with a clean bill of health are being housed in various accommodation provided by the local authorities and supplied with daily meals, but contrary to rumours, they are not given any financial aid.
This process normally ends with the immigrants either being repatriated or relocated to designated camps that are set up on the Spanish mainland, while a very small proportion actually find work and will then be self-sufficient.
There have been reports locally that some local ex-pats are incensed at having these immigrants continually housed very near to them, and have been calling on the authorities to cut the number of immigrants that they are placing there.
This problem for the authorities in the Canary Islands lies in the fact they are only a distance of 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the North African coast, and recent border control agreements between the EU and Morrocco, Turkey and Libya, have led to an increase in the number of arrivals, with it being reported in Spanish Interior Ministry data that since January 2020, over 11,000 illegal immigrants have arrived into the various Canary Islands, which is 7 times the figure for the same period in 2109, which led on Friday 6th November to Ylva Johansson, who is the EU internal affairs commissioner to call for increased repatriation of any migrants who did not qualify for refugee status.