The Canary Islands Have Reported a Dramatic Rise in the Number of Migrants Arriving By Boat.
The number of migrants arriving by the Atlantic route to Spain’s Canary Islands is increasing dramatically, according to reports. With other ways into Europe closed due to COVID-19, many of them believe they have no choice but to risk everything in the bid for a new start.
For many, getting to the EU by this route from West Africa has turned into a matter of life or death. Shockingly and according to the International Organisation for Migration, at least one in every 16 people dies attempting the crossing.
The volcanic archipelago of the Canary Islands is increasingly being seen by many migrants, fleeing political and economic instability in Africa, as the most viable gateway into Europe- the majority coming from Mali, The Gambia, Senegal and Morocco.
The trip is fraught with danger however with many over-crowded boats capsizing in heavy seas. Engine failures are common too, so are sick people, who, upon reaching the shore, are often found to be carrying the coronavirus. Camps housing 7,000 immigrants have been set but they still keep coming and the Spanish government has set up a task force to deal with the problem.
The president of the Cabildo of Gran Canaria, Antonio Morales Mendez, says the European Union and the Spanish government must do more. The Canary Islands, he says, should not become a holding camp for asylum seekers trying to reach the EU.
“These people have to reach Spain – they don’t want to stay, they don’t want to be here on an island because they are running from difficult personal situations aggravated by the pandemic. They are looking to reach the continent so the Spanish government must move them inside its borders, from the canaries to the peninsula. That’s what we demand, that’s why we are so angry.”
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