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Over 200 migrants rescued at sea as Canary Islands arrivals spike

More stringent policing in northern Morocco is pushing people to attempt the journey to the Spanish archipelago

Las Palmas / Fuerteventura / Madrid
Migrants disembark from a boat in San Roque (Cádiz).
Migrants disembark from a boat in San Roque (Cádiz). EFE

A total of 207 people have been rescued from three boats in waters near Spain this past weekend.

A vessel carrying 37 migrants, including 10 women and four minors, arrived at 8.10pm on Saturday at the Gran Tarajal pier in Tuineje, on the Spanish island of Fuerteventura, according to the Red Cross Operations Center in the Canary Islands.

Another 80 individuals were assisted by Spanish sea-rescue services on Sunday morning, when they were located in the Strait of Gibraltar aboard a wooden boat.

Migrants are assisted by the Red Cross at the port of Motril, in Granada, on Sunday.
Migrants are assisted by the Red Cross at the port of Motril, in Granada, on Sunday. EFE

And at around 6.30pm on Sunday, 90 migrants were rescued from a vessel near the island of Alborán and taken to the port of Motril (Granada), located around 45 nautical miles away. There were at least five minors in this group.

These weekend rescues add to the Friday operation that saved 152 people in the westernmost portion of the Mediterranean Sea and near the island of Gran Canaria.

Crowded shelters

The spike in migrant arrivals in the Canary Islands has stretched resources thin at regional shelters. The lack of beds has forced authorities to book several rooms at a hotel in Las Palmas for migrant women who are pregnant or caring for small children.

There are 200 beds at temporary migrant shelters in Tenerife and Gran Canaria. So far this year, 1,470 migrants have reached the Spanish archipelago. The monthly average has been 400 people in the last four months. This represents a 12% rise from last year, and can be at least partly attributed to more stringent policing in northern Morocco, a traditional departure point for undocumented migrants seeking to reach Europe.

So far this year, more than 300 people have drowned or disappeared in the Strait of Gibraltar and the westernmost portion of the Mediterranean as they attempted to reach Spain, a 42% drop from 2018. One out of every 100 migrants continues to die at sea.

English version by Susana Urra.

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