Press "Enter" to skip to content

The Way the Canary Islands became Europe’s latest migrant hotbed

Spain’s Canary Islands sit 1,200 kilometers from southern Europe.

However, migrants are risking perilous travels from western Africa to get to the archipelago, in ordinary situations every tourism honeypot.

More migrants came in the first two weeks of November – 5,275 – compared to at the previous four decades combined, based on data from the Spanish authorities. The islands have obtained 16,950 migrants this season, the maximum amount since 2006.

Experts say many factors are driving the influx of arrivals, especially limitations on other avenues to Europe through Morocco and Libya.

Others indicate the financial reach of coronavirus, battle and enhanced sailing conditions are helping push up the amounts.

“Spain is working closely together with Morocco and has tried to shut its boundaries, attempting to stop arrivals on its territory [in Morocco] known as Ceuta and Melilla, and preventing any sort of migration from ship throughout the Strait of Gibraltar by sea by the northeast shore to the Spanish peninsula, therefore a number of the men and women who could otherwise have gone this route have turned out to try out the Canary Islands path,” explained Judith Sunderland, acting deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Europe and Central Asia division.

“This goes back into an axiom in migration flows, and that’s that if you shut 1 path, another path will start-up since people will attempt to move regardless of what.

“Along with the smugglers that are paid to assist individuals who wish to move would-be business people and will search for different avenues and up to them.”

The existence of migrants on the archipelago is causing difficulties with locals that want to recuperate from a tourism period ravaged by a coronavirus.

For many, but the archipelago will function as a staging place to achieve southern Spain or other areas of Europe, Sunderland added.

“I believe right now there is not a system set up from the Canary Islands to get people and adapt them and make sure that, as an instance, their asylum applications are processed efficiently,” she informed Euronews.

‘Pretty catastrophic scenario’

Migrants coming into Gran Canaria are originally kept at the vent of Arguineguin. In the present time, it homes around 2,000.

“What I saw when I had been there over a week back was a fairly dreadful scenario in this 1 city on the pier at which the police were putting this up makeshift reception center since August at which the authorities identify procedure and enroll everybody, and in which they also perform medical exams and COVID-19 evaluations before individuals are subsequently placed elsewhere,” said Sunderland

“Once I visited, I met with three girls who stated they were there since October 22, which in the time was over two weeks past.

“It was a terrible idea from the start to put up that type of reception and processing center on a dock that, despite the very best of intentions, might never truly offer the type of dignified material requirements which people deserve.”

Alejandro Santana, director of Labranda Hotels & Resorts, advised Euronews that COVID lockdowns had intended hotels had been nearly vacant for eight or nine weeks. Bearing that in mind, hoteliers have opted to assist the country attempt to handle the migrant influx.

“We’ve got resorts which were closed for eight or nine weeks, and we’ve got beds available, and they’re utilized to house these immigrants,” said Santana. “Many hotel chains do so and the company has been created and jobs are being made.

However, he added, the existence of migrants is creating the couple holidaymakers which are on the islands uneasy.

“The tourists aren’t utilized to this all, occasionally you will find 10 or 15 individuals on the street who perhaps ask the tourists for money, perhaps they make them uneasy, or cause them to feel insecure, and”. Additional Santana.

Aside from tourism, sailors around the islands, fighting amid the COVID limitations, also have been protesting about the migrant influx.

He explained: “There have been numerous instances where our fishermen have been required to stop fishing and also shed a few days of action to assist the countless individuals that are busy on board the cayucos [wooden rafts], frequently adrift at sea in a situation of threat into the lives of those folks.”

‘No explanation for not understanding numbers were climbing’

Madrid has pledged to enlarge naval patrols across the seas and its ministers have spoken to Morocco and Senegal about quitting migrants from traveling in the first location.

“COVID is ruining African markets since it’s also had a massive influence on European markets, we understood that among the effects of this outbreak was likely to be an increase in migration,” Arancha González Laya, Spain’s foreign ministry, said earlier this season.

She rebuffed accusations of poor management and prep by Spain in handling the migrant arrivals, leading to thousands of these sleeping under tents on the pier of Arguineguin for days, sometimes months, in unsanitary conditions.

“In the UNHCRwe insist upon the value of rapidly identifying asylum seekers and, most importantly, that which we need is therapy in accord with the individual rights of basic liberty with all individuals, irrespective of their immigration status,” said María Jesús Vega, head of communications to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“From that point, and with matters done nicely, we suggest to refer asylum seekers who demand protection, use victims of trafficking when you can find some, refer unaccompanied minors into the government, and when there are individuals who may reunite and nothing occurs to these return flights must be organized, but with the assurance, they are not coming refugees, including all the warranties and respecting the principle of non-refoulment created by law.”

“These are hard times, and I’d like to acknowledge the unbelievable work of the men and women that are coming out to save them for what they’re doing, but Spain is much more than capable of organizing this greater, likely better. The signs were there,” she explained.

“There is not an excuse for not understanding that the numbers are rising and for not performing strong contingency planning so they can react in a manner that respects people’s dignity and their faith,” Sunderland added.