Spanish rescue services say they found at least one deceased person on a rubber dinghy with 42 other migrants on board. They were brought to Lanzarote in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
The latest group of arrivals to the Canary Islands had reportedly been over a week at sea and come originally from sub-Saharan African countries, reported local Canary Islands news service Canarias 7.
Their boat was brought in to Lanzarote late on Tuesday, or the early hours of Wednesday, February 8. At least one deceased person was found on board. Canarias 7 reported that nine others were taken to hospital, two of whom were in a "critical state." All nine were showing symptoms of hypothermia and dehydration.
The Zodiac rubber dinghy was spotted about 37 kilometers from the Arrecife coast and was reportedly carrying 41 adults and one baby, as well as the person who had died. The rest of the group were transferred to Lanzarote’s capital Arrecife, where they were looked after by the emergency services.
Arrival on Gran Canaria
In addition, rescuers found a boat carrying 64 people, also from sub-Saharan Africa, about 32 kilometers off the coast of Gran Canaria. This group, which reportedly included five children, was taken to the port of Arguineguin.
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The route to towards the Canary Islands across the Atlantic Ocean is one of the most dangerous ways to approach Europe. In 2022, at least 1,784 people are reported to have died on route to the archipelago, stated Canarias 7. The figure could be much higher, since data on the number of people who set out on migration journeys but who disappear at sea are not complete.
Canarias 7 said that the rescuers were told by the migrants that there could have been an additional seven people on the boat, although it added the information was "confused" and could not be confirmed.
'Exhausted' and 'very weak'
The latest group of migrants to arrive were "exhausted" and could "barely speak" because they had been at sea for so long and were "very weak."
Although on the day they were found, seas were relatively calm, rescuers told Canarias 7 that there was at least 10 centimeters of water in the bottom of the dinghy.
The Canary Islands enjoy relatively mild weather year round, but many of the islands have been experiencing lower than usual temperatures. According to Canarias 7, the temperatures on land were around 12 degrees Celsius at night.
In just over a month, from the beginning of this year to February 5, 1,953 migrants made it to Spain, 987 of them to the Canary Islands, according to UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) data. In 2022, over 30,000 arrived throughout the whole year, the majority by sea.
More than €25 million to help Canary Islands migration reception
The Spanish government this week announced that it would be budgeting more than €25.5 million to help the authorities look after migrants who arrive in the Canary Islands.
This will help pay for welcome services and accommodation infrastructure for the migrants, reported Canarias 7. This January, according to the Spanish interior ministry, the number of people arriving on the Canary Islands compared to January 2022 has dropped by 82.3%. Only the number arriving in the Spanish enclave Ceuta, on the African continent, have risen slightly compared to the same period last year.
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Spain last week renewed its migration and business deals with Morocco in order to try to control the numbers of those trying to leave Morocco and enter Europe via Spain. According to the news agency Associated Press (AP) the package of agreements included an "€800 million incentive to encourage investment by Spanish firms in Morocco, as well as two memorandums on migration and several deals for education and job training."
Morocco also receives funding from the European Union as a whole to help it control migration. According to AP, 64,000 migrants left from Morocco and entered the EU in 2018. After additional funding and training for Moroccan authorities, that number had more than halved to 31,000 in 2022. Not all of those who leave Morocco are Moroccan nationals. Many migrants from sub-Saharan African countries travel first to Morocco, before attempting to enter the Spanish enclaves in Ceuta or Melilla, cross the Mediterranean towards southern Spain, or try the Atlantic route towards the Canary Islands.
However, many of the migrants are Moroccans hoping to find work in Europe. According to AP, Moroccans make up the "single largest foreign community in Spain, with 800,000 residents."
With AP, Canarias 7