Risking everything for a better life: Canary Islands see dramatic increase in number of migrants arriving by sea | World news


Unstable but alive, the migrants drag themselves along the quay of the port of Arguineguin, in Gran Canaria.

They arrived on Spanish rescue boats after being pulled from the sea.

Others are taken on stretchers to hospital, weakened to the point of collapsing from lack of food and exposure to the elements.

One in 16 people lost their life trying to cross

The number of migrants arriving by route from the Atlantic to the the Canary Islands increases considerably.

With other routes in Europe closed due to COVID-19[feminine[feminine, many of them think they have no choice but to risk it all.

And for many, getting to the EU by this route from West Africa is a matter of life and death.

According to the International Organization for Migration, at least one in 16 people dies trying to cross.

In the city of Puerto Rico, we meet Ousman, from Gambia, who tells me that he arrived in Gran Canaria a month ago.

Ousman says he sacrificed his life to come to Europe

He shows me a video of the fragile boat he took in Senegal.

Ousman paid € 2,000 (£ 1,779) to board the dilapidated ship, which was packed with people, for the week-long, 60-mile journey through dangerous seas.

He said, “I sacrifice my life to cross the sea to be here. It is very risky. The boat has a lot of people, a lot of people. Someone is dead, someone is sick. ”

Ousman now hopes to build a better life and believes he will be welcomed L’Europe : “I come here to try to find a job. Our country is not happening. Our country we had no food, nothing… Africa is very, very, very, very difficult. ”

The volcanic archipelago of the Canary Islands is increasingly seen by many migrants, fleeing political and economic instability in Africa, as the most viable gateway to Europe.

They are from Mali, The Gambia, Senegal and Morocco.

Nearly 17,000 migrants arrived in the Canary Islands last year

They are all young men in search of work and a better future.

Nearly 17,000 migrants arrived last year, more than half of them last month, 10 times more than the previous year.

The authorities here, however, do not have the resources to deal with the problem, which is getting worse by the day.

Some of the migrants are taken to makeshift camps, where they await treatment, living in basic conditions.

Others stay in the empty hotels that dot the islands – the coronavirus has decimated the tourism economy – where they wait to find out what happens next.

Cabildo de Gran Canaria president Antonio Morales Mendez says the European Union and the Spanish government must do more.

The Canary Islands, he says, should not become a detention camp for asylum seekers trying to reach the EU.

“These people have to go to Spain – they don’t want to stay, they don’t want to be here on an island because they are fleeing difficult personal situations made worse by the pandemic.

“They are seeking to reach the mainland and the Spanish government must therefore move them within its borders, from the Canaries to the peninsula.

“That’s what we demand is that we are so angry. “

Gran Canaria President Cabildo Antonio Morales Mendez said the Canary Islands should not be a temporary place for people trying to reach Europe
Antonio Morales Mendez says Canary Islands shouldn’t be a temporary place for people trying to reach Europe

But at the port, more and more migrants are arriving all the time – they are holding placards demanding their human rights.

Their hope is that this will only be the first stop on a journey that ends when they live and work in Europe.


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