More than 1,600 migrants reached Spain’s Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean over the weekend. The body of a migrant who had died as a result of the journey was also found.
It is still the deadliest sea route to Europe, but this year increasing numbers of migrants have attempted the crossing from the West African coast, Mauritania and Morocco towards Spain’s Canary Islands archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, more than 11,000 have reached the islands this year alone.
This weekend, more than 1,600 migrants reportedly made the crossing. Some were in boats that made it all the way, others were rescued by the coast guard in waters around the islands.
The closest point on the African coast is some 100 kilometers away from the islands, in Morocco. Many crossings last several days and the currents, waves and winds can be treacherous on this sea route.
One dead body found
According to the news agency AP, one body was recovered from the sea, from waters near the island of El Hierro in the Canary Islands. Another migrant was airlifted to hospital with "an unspecified health problem."
Even though arrivals have increased significantly this year, they are still not up to 2006's figures when the Canary Islands saw about 30,000 migrants arrive on their shores. In the first 10 months of 2019, the Spanish government recorded just 2,557 arrivals.
According to Euronews, the majority of migrants arrived on Saturday, and were split between about "20 barely-seaworthy boats."
Almost 40% of arrivals to Spain come from Algeria, according to the UN Refugee Agency UNCHR's latest data, updated on November 1 this year. Moroccans account for the second-highest group of migrants, at about 20.3%, followed by Malians, Guineans, and people from the Ivory Coast.