Around 42 migrants are rescued off the south coast of Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain, 8 February 2016 | Photo: picture-alliance/EPA/Spanish Maritime Rescue Service
Around 42 migrants are rescued off the south coast of Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain, 8 February 2016 | Photo: picture-alliance/EPA/Spanish Maritime Rescue Service

The number of migrants arriving in the Spanish Canary Islands increased last month to 18 times the number in January 2019, the AFP news agency reports. However, fewer migrants are trying to reach mainland Spain by boat.

708 migrants reached the Canary Islands last month, compared with 40 in January a year ago, according to Spanish government figures. Meanwhile, AFP reports, the number or migrants arriving in mainland Spain was down 72 percent compared with the same period a year earlier. 

Overall, the number of irregular migrant arrivals in Spain has decreased by more than half over the past two years, the government said, falling from 57,498 in 2018 to 26,168 in 2019.

The Canary Islands lie just off southern Morocco, which has seen a crackdown on irregular migration. In 2019, the European Union allocated €140 million to support Morocco’s efforts to stop irregular migration, with Madrid also providing aid. Last year, Morocco prevented "74,000 illegal attempts" to reach Spain, according to AFP.
Screenshot of Western Africa region with Spain's Canary Islands in the top middle | Credit: Google Maps
Alternative routes

According to AFP, many of the migrants recently arrived in the Canary Islands "appear to have made the crossing from Mauritania," whose coastline lies 1,000 km south of the Canaries.

This month, 88 migrants have been sent back from the Canaries to Mauritania, Spanish ombudsman documents show. Most were citizens of Mali, while eight were from Mauritania, seven from Senegal and one from Ivory Coast, according to AFP.
 

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