In 2020, eight times more illegal migrants arrived in the Canary Islands than in 2019. Referring to a statement from the Spanish Ministry of the Interior, a total of 23,023 migrants reached the Spanish archipelago, while in 2019, it was only 2,687 refugees. Most of them were people from North and Sub-Saharan Africa who lost part of their income from tourism and other sectors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry stated. Dozens of migrants have tried to cover several hundred kilometers between the African continent and the Canary Islands this year as well. The Coast Guard near Gran Canaria, where most migrants arrived last year, rescued 44 people from North Africa.
According to a Coast Guard spokesman, except for two minor injuries, everyone was healthy. On Sunday, rescuers also helped 71 migrants near the island of Fuerteventura. Hundreds of people died last year in an attempt to cross the Atlantic on mostly overcrowded and poorly equipped ships, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Just in November, the Canary Islands saw more than 8,000 illegal boat migrants arrive there in what could be an all-time record for a single month, according to figures from the Spanish Interior Ministry. In total, the number of illegal migrants detained at the border by the Spanish authorities in 2020 increased by 29 percent to 41,861. In addition to the Canary Islands, migrants also sailed to mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands or crossed the land border between Morocco and the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.
Title image: In this Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020 file photo, migrants from Morocco walk along the shore escorted by Spanish police after arriving at the coast of the Canary Island, crossing the Atlantic Ocean sailing on a wooden boat. Spain’s government is scrambling to manage the steady stream of migrants to its Canary Islands from West Africa by opening a second holding camp, officials said as political tensions rise in the Atlantic archipelago. (AP Photo/Javier Bauluz, File)