Sixty-five migrants, including 10 women and one boy, who were rescued from an inflatable boat about 50 km off the coast of Puerto del Rosario on the island of Fuenteventura in the Canary Islands, Spain, April 7, 2021 | Photo: EPA/Carlos de Saa
Sixty-five migrants, including 10 women and one boy, who were rescued from an inflatable boat about 50 km off the coast of Puerto del Rosario on the island of Fuenteventura in the Canary Islands, Spain, April 7, 2021 | Photo: EPA/Carlos de Saa

The Spanish Commission for Aid to Refugees (CEAR) presented a report in which it denounced that the Canary Islands are becoming "a new stage for migrant containment policy" such as that used in Greece.

The Spanish Commission for Aid to Refugees (CEAR) on Wednesday presented the report "Migration in the Canary Islands: the predictable emergency" in which it analyzed how the islands have become "a new stage for migrant containment policy."

This policy is a model already used in Greece, based on keeping migrants in insular areas as a deterrent and promoting deportation as the main strategy to manage migrant flows.

Rights violations and inhumane situations

In a statement, CEAR said the increase of arrivals on the Canary Islands in the last months of 2020, together with the lack of foresight and decapitalisation, led to the "repeated violation of Spanish law, with arrests and deprivation of freedom without legal protection, lack of legal aid to migrants and, as a result, a lack of attention for children travelling alone, who are potential victims of trafficking or possible asylum seekers."

The report also indicated proposals to avoid the recurrence of "inhumane situations", as described by CEAR's coordinator for the Canary Islands, Juan Carlos Lorenzo. Continuing these policies would involve "continuous rights violations, the main victims of which -- but not the only ones -- are migrants," he said.

During the presentation of the report, the president of the 'Cabildo' of Gran Canaria, Antonio Morales, said that the 23,000 people who arrived on the islands in 2020 weren't impossible to manage, but the government preferred "to use the Canary Islands as prison islands."

CEAR said inadequate management in an emergency perspective for a structural problem is what made the increase of arrivals end up becoming a humanitarian crisis, with thousands of people in inhumane conditions. At the same time, they said "the inhumane treatment of migrants has been normalized."

Proposals for a 'more just, effective' policy

The document also includes 12 proposals for adopting a "more just, effective and efficient migratory policy."

The proposals include scaling back the humanitarian reception programme and equipping it with a more stable and flexible structure; enacting an agile, transparent and systematic transfer policy; changing protocols for assistance to minors; improving coordination between the various administrations' and involving all EU countries through relocation.

 

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