Arrival of about a dozen migrants on a small wooden boat on the Canary Islands on March 27, 2022 | Photo: Mercedes Menendez /Picture-alliance / Pacific Press
Arrival of about a dozen migrants on a small wooden boat on the Canary Islands on March 27, 2022 | Photo: Mercedes Menendez /Picture-alliance / Pacific Press

On Monday morning, Spanish rescue workers brought to shore 52 migrants on the island of Lanzarote. That’s in addition to the 237 migrants reported to have arrived on small boats on various Canary Islands over the weekend.

Several small boats carrying around 290 migrants arrived on various islands of the Spanish archipelago between Friday and Monday (March 28) morning, according to local Canaries news channel Canarias 7.

On Monday morning, the Spanish coast guard Salvamento Marítimo reportedly brought 52 migrants ashore on the island of Lanzarote. Over the weekend, 237 arrived, including one dead person.

In one rescue operation on Sunday, 64 people of North African origin were found 16 miles from the island of Gran Canaria. They were brought in to the port of Arguineguin, according to Spanish news agency Efe. The first sighting of this boat was noted at about 4:30pm on Sunday and was confirmed by the coast guard a little later.

The group boarded the coast guard vessel at about 6pm and most were reported to be in good health. A video from the news agency Reuters showed this group arriving. One migrant was shown being stretchered off the boat, and reportedly needed medical attention.

A migrant is transferred in a wheelchair after disembarking from a Spanish coast guard vessel, in the port of Arguineguin, on the island of Gran Canaria, Spain, March 27, 2022 | Photo:  Borja Suarez /REUTERS
A migrant is transferred in a wheelchair after disembarking from a Spanish coast guard vessel, in the port of Arguineguin, on the island of Gran Canaria, Spain, March 27, 2022 | Photo: Borja Suarez /REUTERS

47 arrived, one dead

Off the island of Tenerife, a smaller boat, carrying 12 sub-Saharan African males, including one minor, was spotted by a fisherman. Everyone was found to be in good health, wrote Efe.

Near another island in the Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic, El Hierro, a boat carrying 48 people, one of whom had died, was discovered.

Local news portal Lancelot Digital reported that emergency services sources had told them that at least five people on this boat had to be taken to hospital for health checks. There were 36 men, two women and ten people who could be minors.

The island of Fuerteventura, saw 53 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa arrive, including a baby. And another boat carrying 61 people of Maghrebi origin was also brought in by the coast guard to the harbor at Arguineguín on Gran Canaria.

13 women and one baby

Emergency services sources said there were a total of 13 women and one baby on board the boat arriving in Fuerteventura, Lancelot Digital reported. They arrived on board a Zodiac (rigid-hull inflatable boat). No information was given regarding the departure points of the various boats which arrived, or for how long they had been at sea.

Up until this point in March, the numbers of those sucessfully making the crossing to the Canary Islands from the West African coast had been relatively low. Only two other boats are reported to have arrived a couple of weeks ago.

The arrivals this weekend brings the numbers of migrants arriving in the Canary Islands in March to around 300.

The Spanish sea rescue services helped many of the 280 migrants who arrived on various Canary Islands over the last weekend in March 2022 | Photo: Picture Alliance / Pacific Press
The Spanish sea rescue services helped many of the 280 migrants who arrived on various Canary Islands over the last weekend in March 2022 | Photo: Picture Alliance / Pacific Press


The Atlantic route can find migrants at sea for days, or even weeks. Even at the shortest crossing points between the Moroccan coast and the Canary Islands, the distance is about 100 kilometers. Some boats set off from as far away as southern Senegal and Gambia and make their way north up the African coast before attempting the crossing, traveling for hundreds of kilometers in total.

Those who have made it often report running out of food and water along the way and drifting, sometimes past other migrant boats whose occupants did not manage to arrive. According to the Spanish migrant charity Caminando Fronteras, more than 4,400 people lost their lives at sea trying to reach Spain, including at least 205 children, reported Reuters.

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Spanish government figures

The first two months of 2022, however, saw greater numbers making the crossing campared to the same time period in 2021. According to figures published by the Spanish interior minister, 5,496 migrants arrived in 115 different small boats. That was 3,155 more than the same period in 2021, or an increase of 134,8%.

The most recent figures published by the Spanish interior ministry are from March 15, 2022. Here the government records that 8,276 migrants have arrived via all routes, land and sea, into Spanish territory, including across the Mediterranean to the Spanish mainland. Here too, the figures show a substantial increase compared to the same period in 2021 when 4, 678 people arrived. Here the ministry says the increase is 76.9%.

Sea arrivals to Spain overall appear to be increasing: 7,254 this year January to mid-March compared to 4,377 in the same period last year. The only route showing a slight decrease this year is the maritime route into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on the African continent. Here, the government has recorded 19 arrivals from January to mid-March 2022, compared to 68 in 2021. Arrivals in Melilla, the other Spanish enclave on the African continent has recorded an increase. 43 arrivals this year compared to zero last year.

With Efe, Reuters

 

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