According to the Ministry of Interior more than 6,000 people have arrived in the Canary Islands in 2020, which is an increase of more than 500 per cent compared to the same period of 2019. While admitting reception capacity in the Canary Islands is insufficient, Spanish Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration José Luis Escrivá has so far ruled out the use of military facilities as an emergency measure. Numerous search and rescue operations have been conducted in Spanish waters over the last week.

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, 6081 people have arrived in the Canary Islands this year in 225 boats, six times the figure of the same period of 2019. 35 per cent of them (2,148 people) arrived within the month of September 2020. Minister Escrivá stated that 2698 migrants are currently hosted in the humanitarian reception system in the Canary Islands. The Minister further noted that reception capacity was clearly insufficient but ruled out the use of military facilities as an emergency measure and noted that transfers to the mainland requested by local authorities is not the responsibility of his Ministry. Several options are under consideration to increase capacity including tourist facilities closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While more than 100 people were transferred from the pier of Arguineguin to other reception spaces, another 51 newly rescued people were transferred to the harbor facility. According to the Red Cross, 40 people were expected to sleep in tents. 70 people in poor health, suffering dehydration and serious injuries from having spent up to ten days at sea, were relocated to Red Cross run centres in Tunte, Lomo, and Jurgón, after the ship hosting them in the Port of Las Palmas was evicted.

35 North Africans including a child were rescued south of the coast of Maspalomas on 7 October and disembarked in Gran Canaria. On October 8 Spanish Search and Rescue Agency Salvamento Marítimo rescued 59 people from five dinghies south of Gran Canaria, who later disembarked on the island.

40 people have been saved in three rescue operations by Guardia Civil on 7 October. One off the coast of Cala Figuera and two south of the island of Cabrera under harsh weather conditions and using helicopter assistance. 55 carying 706 people have arrived to the Balearic islands this year. Also on 7 October, 28 Moroccan men three of whom were rescued by a fishing boat have been transferred to the port of Almeria. A total of 70 people from four dinghies of sub-Saharan and Moroccan descent have been rescued and transferred to the port of Motril, where they were recieved by the Red Cross.

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Spain has a total of 19,093 arrivals by sea and land in 2020 as of September 27.

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Photo: ECRE