Spain’s coast guard on Wednesday sent rescue ships to help six drifting migrant boats off the Canary Islands, amid an increase in maritime migration that has seen thousands make the dangerous crossing of Africa to the Atlantic archipelago.
Emergency services rescued 38 North African men from a first boat off Lanzarote after receiving a call from one of the people on board. The men were in relatively good health and were transferred to Arrecife, authorities said. A Coast Guard plane then located four other boats 44 km (27 miles) south of Gran Canaria and by late afternoon rescuers had snatched 77 men, 21 women and two children from the first three and were working to help the fourth.
A fifth boat has also been spotted off Tenerife with an unknown number of people on board. On Tuesday, some 355 people in 11 boats reached the coasts of Lanzarote and Gran Canaria.
Data from the Interior Ministry showed that more than 9,250 migrants had arrived by sea in the Canary Islands as of August 29, more than double the number in the equivalent period in 2020. Authorities expect this to happen. as the pace of arrivals accelerates in the coming months, in line with a trend established last year when migration began to soar in the fall as security heightened in the Mediterranean and economic turmoil induced by COVID in Africa have pushed more to brave the Atlantic route.
Local housing infrastructure collapsed under the pressure, leaving thousands stranded on a dock in Gran Canaria in November and ultimately prompting the government to convert abandoned military barracks into camps. A government spokesperson said on Wednesday that a total of 2,260 people were currently accommodated in reception centers across the Canaries, out of a total capacity of 7,000.
âAt the moment we have the resources,â she said. “But it’s true that more complicated months are coming.” (Additional reporting and writing by Nathan Allen, editing by Andrei Khalip and Angus MacSwan)
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