Two hundred and eighty migrants, all alive, arrived on Tuesday (October 3rd) aboard a single boat on an island in the Spanish archipelago of the Canaries, taking one of the most dangerous migratory routes in the world, told AFP the rescue at sea. Of those people, 278 were men and ten were minors who made the crossing, rescuers said. This is the largest number of passengers ever arriving on a single boat.
The migrants, of "sub-Saharan origin" according to sea rescuers, were taken care of upon arrival. Spain, and especially the Canary archipelago off the coast of Africa, is one of the main gateways for illegal migrants to Europe. The Canary Islands saw 14,976 migrants arrive between January 1 and September 30, an increase of 19.8% compared to the same period of 2022, according to the latest figures from the Spanish Ministry of the Interior.
Tightening of controls in the Mediterranean
In recent years, the migratory route to the Canary Islands has been particularly used due to the tightening of controls in the Mediterranean. Shipwrecks are frequent, the crossing being particularly dangerous. NGOs regularly report deadly shipwrecks -- whose unofficial toll they say is in the dozens, if not hundreds, of deaths -- in Moroccan, Spanish or international waters.
Since the beginning of 2023, 140 migrants have died or gone missing in this crossing, according to data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) received in early September.
The Spanish NGO Caminando Fronteras, which, unlike IOM, relies on emergency calls with illegal immigrants at sea or their relatives, estimates that 778 migrants died or disappeared on this migration route in the first half of the year.