On Wednesday (April 19), 344 migrants were rescued by the Spanish coast guard, traveling on six different boats | Photo: Borja Suare / Reuters
On Wednesday (April 19), 344 migrants were rescued by the Spanish coast guard, traveling on six different boats | Photo: Borja Suare / Reuters

The Spanish coast guard rescued a total of 344 migrants on Wednesday near the Canary Islands archipelago in the Atlantic. The operation was focused on six different boats in water just off the islands.

On Wednesday (April 19), the Spanish coast guard rescued a total of 344 North African and sub-Saharan migrants from six different boats and brought them to the Canary Islands, reported the Spanish news agency EFE.

The numbers of migrants attempting the so-called Atlantic crossing from the African coasts towards the Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean reduced in the first quarter of 2023 -- compared to the numbers attempting the crossing in the same period last year.

In fact since the beginning of 2023, according to figures from the Spanish Interior Ministry, the numbers of crossings from Africa to the Canary Islands had reduced by 44% compared to the same period in 2022.

Local online news portal Canarias Ahora reported that the numbers arriving this week represented a marked increase on those arriving in the first half of April when just 198 people managed to come to the group of islands across the whole period.

In total, from the beginning of the year until April 15, reported Canarias Ahora, 2,376 migrants managed to cross the Atlantic, arriving on the Canary Islands. Last year in the same period, 6,359 people arrived by that route.

Women and children among those rescued

According to the regional news portal Canarias 7, the sixth boat to be picked up by the Spanish coast guard contained 60 migrants originally from sub-Saharan African countries. That boat, stated the broadcaster, also had six women and two children on board.

A spokesperson for the coast guard told Canarias 7 that that group of 60 migrants had been taken safely in to the port of Arguineguin on the island of Gran Canaria.

Another boat, continued EFE, which was picked up about 37 nautical miles from Arrecife on Lanzarote, had 49 people on board, including two women. The passengers on that boat were reported to be made up of a mixture of North Africans and sub-Saharan Africans.

Also read: Canary Islands, looking for new ways of living together

All of those rescued appeared to be in a "good state of health," confirmed the coast guard. However, EFE did say that two of those who disembarked on the island of Fuerteventura had to be taken to hospital suffering from severe hypothermia.

Another four boats carrying a total of 235 people, including at least 25 women and three little girls, were able to disembark in two different Canary Islands. A group of 121 people were taken to Gran Tarajal on the island of Fuerteventura, and the remaining 114 people were also taken to Arguineguín on Gran Canaria.

Lack of facilities

Those who disembarked on Gran Canaria, reported Canarias 7, were traveling on rubber boats. Those who were disembarked on Fuerteventura were also traveling on rubber boats, and were reported as all coming originally from sub-Saharan Africa. It is not yet clear though from which country they had set off.

The local government on Fuerteventura said that it didn't have enough transport options available to immediately take all the migrants to the local first reception center, CATE, reported Canarias Ahora. As a result, at least 121 people were forced to sleep in temporary structures at the port.

This was not the first time that migrants arriving there have had to sleep at the port, explained Canarias Ahora. In the past, some have had to sleep in improvised camps for weeks without sufficient showers or other facilities, exceeding the time frame where they can legally be held, which is 72 hours.

With EFE


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