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More than 1,400 African migrants reach Spain’s Canary Islands

More than 1,400 African migrants have reached Spain’s Canary Islands this weekend, with one vessel bringing a single-boat record of 321 people, authorities said Sunday.

Issued on: 23/10/2023 – 00:16

1 min

Migrants disembark from the Spanish Guardia Civil ship “Rio Tajo” at the Port of Los Cristianos, on the Canary Island of Tenerife, on October 21, 2023. © Désirée Martin, AFP



A total of 1,457 migrants had reached the Spanish islands off the western African coast between Friday night and Sunday morning, the authorities said on X, formerly Twitter, adding to a recent spike in arrivals.

An emergency services spokesman said all of the arrivals hailed from sub-Saharan Africa.

Saturday saw 321 people reach the island of El Hierro aboard one vessel, a rescue services spokesperson told AFP, surpassing the previous record for a single boat of 280 on October 3.

Spanish broadcaster TVE showed images of a multicoloured vessel crammed with smiling and waving passengers reaching port.

Latest data from Spain’s interior ministry show 23,537 migrants reached the Canaries between January 1 and October 15.

The first fortnight of this month alone saw 8,561 arrivals — a record for a fortnight since a previous migration crisis in 2006.

Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska last week said on a visit to the archipelago the spike in numbers resulted from political “destabilisation in the Sahel”.

The Canaries route has been favoured in recent years with controls having been tightened in the Mediterranean.

However, many barely seaworthy vessels have not made it to shore as thousands of migrants risk their lives on the long and dangerous crossing from Morocco or Western Sahara — 100 kilometres (60 miles) away.

Others try even riskier routes from Mauritania, Senegal and even Gambia, around 1,000 kilometres away.


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  • Spain
  • migrants
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