In a dramatic increase highlighting the ongoing migration crisis, a total of 1,457 migrants have successfully reached the Spanish islands off the western African coast between Friday night and Sunday morning, according to authorities. The surge in arrivals, mainly hailing from sub-Saharan Africa, has contributed to the escalating numbers of migrants making the perilous journey.
On Saturday alone, 321 individuals arrived on the island of El Hierro aboard a single vessel, surpassing the previous record set on October 3 with 280 migrants. Spanish broadcaster TVE shared footage of a vibrant and overcrowded vessel arriving at the port, filled with passengers who were visibly relieved and waving joyfully.
The latest data from Spain’s interior ministry reveals that a staggering 23,537 migrants have reached the Canaries between January 1 and October 15. The first half of this month witnessed 8,561 arrivals, marking a record for a fortnight since the previous migration crisis in 2006.
During a recent visit to the archipelago, Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska attributed the surge in numbers to political instability in the Sahel region. As controls have been tightened in the Mediterranean, the Canaries route has become increasingly favoured by migrants. However, the treacherous journey takes its toll, with numerous unseaworthy vessels failing to reach the shore as desperate migrants risk their lives on the long and dangerous crossing from Morocco or Western Sahara, located approximately 100 kilometres (60 miles) away.
In a bid to reach Europe, some migrants even embark on even riskier routes from Mauritania, Senegal, and Gambia, covering a distance of around 1,000 kilometres. The continuous influx of migrants has placed immense pressure on both Spain and the European Union to address the humanitarian, logistical, and legal challenges posed by the migration crisis in the Canary Islands.