Spain: Over 8,000 illegal migrants land on the Canary Islands in November

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The month of November saw more than 8,000 illegal boat migrants arrive on the Spanish Canary Islands, in what could be an all-time record month, according to figures from the Spanish Interior Ministry.
Spain’s Ministry of the Interior said last Thursday that 8,157 illegal boat migrants were recorded as having landed on the Canary Islands in November, bringing the total number of illegal migrants who have arrived in the Atlantic archipelago so far this year to an estimated 20,000, the French newspaper Le Figaro reports .
The amount of migrants who’ve arrived illegally in 2020 is roughly ten times higher the number seen in the previous year, with the sheer number of arrivals overwhelming the small island chain. Of the total, 75 percent arrived between September and November.
Faced with an untenable situation that’s beginning to resemble Greek island Lesbos’ infamous Moria camp, Spain’s leftist coalition government — forged between the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party and the communist Podemos Party — have allocated €84 million to provide the newly arrived illegal migrants with social welfare benefits like free housing, medicine, and food. Thousands of lucky migrants have also taken up residence in hotels that are empty due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Last month, amid the chaos, the government announced plans to begin diplomatic negotiations with several African countries where the migrants are traveling from in order to put a stop to the mass exodus of people.
The reactivation of the Atlantic route has come following agreements made between the European Union and Turkey, Libya, and Morocco, which have considerably reduced immigration across the Mediterranean Sea.
This year’s surge of migrants is quickly approaching the yearly record for the Atlantic archipelago, which took place in 2006 and saw 30,000 illegal migrants successfully land.
Anti-migrant protests have sprung up along the chain of islands due to the vast influx of illegals. Last month, groups of locals on Gran Canaria organized several demonstrations to express their opposition to the growing presence of illegal migrants on the islands. Townspeople in Tunte near Arguineguín also staged protests against the seemingly never ending stream of migrants arriving by boat.
Cabinet president of Gran Canaria, Antonio Morales, slammed the Spanish government along with the European Union last month, saying that both had failed to help the local governments cope with the crisis.
“Spain and the EU are trying to turn the Canaries into a second Lesbos and a kind of prison island,” Morales said. “The strategy is clear: The migrants are supposed to feel like they have not arrived in Europe.”
Ricardo Ortega, a member of the local fishers’ association, lamented to the press about what he described “an invasion of illegal migrants”.
“We live off tourism. Many tourists are staying away because of corona. The pictures of masses of refugees could keep even more tourists away.”

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