Some of the 60 Sub-Saharian immigrants transferred by Rescue Navy are moved in their boat to La Restiga dock in El Hierro island, Canary Island, Spain, 17 October 2023. EPA-EFE/GELMERT FINOL


Almost 1,500 African migrants arrive in Canary Islands


Record numbers of migrants have landed on the shores of the Canary Islands in the past few days. Local rescue services counted 1,492 arrivals.

On October 21 alone, more than 1,000 migrants arrived on the Spanish islands.

Of those migrants, 321 came on the same boat, breaking the record of October 3, when 271 people arrived on a single vessel.

According to the Red Cross, 783 people landed on El Hierro island on Saturday, 98 arrived in Tenerife and 150 in Gran Canaria.

The Gran Canaria Coastguard hauled a wooden boat containing migrants, including a toddler, into the port of Arguineguin. Similar vessels used by previous arrivals are docked in the port.

An emergency services spokesman said all the migrants hailed from Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to Spain’s interior ministry, 23,537 people reached the Canaries between January 1 and October 15, an 80 per cent increase from the same period last year, official data show.

There was a large spike over the past four weeks, which saw 8,561 arrivals, the highest number since 2006 during the Cayuco Crisis in which some 6,000 migrants died at sea.

El Hierro, with a population of only 11,000 people, has now emerged as a primary destination. It saw more than 5,000 arrivals in the first week of October.

Historically, migrants tended to go to Lanzarote but traffickers now prefer El Hierro, as it is further from the Mauritanian and Moroccan shores, making it more difficult for those two nations’ security authorities to intercept them.

The large rise in migration to Spain is partly the result of upheaval in Senegal, where violence erupted after the opposition leader was jailed. That further adds to growing destabilisation in the wider Sahel region.

Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Gabon, Mali, Niger and Sudan are currently all ruled by military juntas, following a string of coups in recent years.

At least 1,000 people have died attempting the crossing to the Canary Islands so far this year, according to the Walking Borders charity.

Spain’s acting migration minister recently announced a € 50million aid package to assist the Canary Islands in dealing with the “extraordinary migration flow”.

In recent years, the migration route via the Canaries has become increasingly preferred, alongside the Italian island of Lampedusa.