05 February 2024

Spain says more than 1,000 migrants reached Canary Islands in three days

05 February 2024

More than 1,000 migrants from sub-Saharan countries arrived in Spain’s Canary Islands in 18 boats over the past three days, Spain’s marine rescue service has said.

A body was found in one of the boats.

The archipelago off northwest Africa has seen a surge in migrant arrivals in recent weeks as more people from West Africa attempt the dangerous journey.

Officials say 7,270 migrants arrived in January, about as many as in the first six months of 2023.

Migrants who arrived in Spain and its islands by boat in 2023" data-source="">

Most of the boats depart from Mauritania. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will visit the West African country on Thursday to encourage authorities to try to curtail the departures.

Spain and the European Union have co-operation agreements with both Mauritania and neighbouring Senegal to try to reduce the number of migrants arriving on the islands. But some young people insist on taking their chances and say there are few opportunities and sometimes political turmoil at home.

Spain’s interior ministry says a record 55,618 migrants arrived by boat — most of them in the Canary Islands — last year, almost double the number of the previous year.

The Spanish non-profit organisation Caminando Fronteras (Walking Borders) says more than 6,600 migrants died while trying to reach Spain by boat last year, most of them on the Atlantic route. The figure is more than double the number reported by the organisation for 2022.

Caminando Fronteras says it compiles its own figures from families of migrants and rescue statistics.

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