Hundreds of people died last year trying to reach the Canaries. And the black series continues. At least four people have died, including a minor and a visibly pregnant woman, after the sinking of a migrant boat in the Canaries, a recurring drama in this Spanish archipelago located off the African coast. The scene which took place Thursday around 10 p.m. near the island of Lanzarote has become usual in the Canaries, the gateway to Europe for migrants in search of a better life: an overloaded boat and a heavy human toll after a very dangerous crossing. "49 people were on board" of the boat, said Friday Enrique Espinosa, head of the rescue services of Lanzarote.
A deceased man and two women were found initially including "a (woman) whom we think is pregnant", he detailed. Later, a helicopter located the body of a "minor" among the missing, he said without being able to indicate whether it was a girl or a boy. Four people are still wanted by the emergency services.
In total, 20 men, 17 women, four children including two babies were saved thanks to the intervention of passers-by in the port who, seeing the boat about to capsize, threw themselves into the water to come to them by help, said Enrique Espinosa.
The boat overturned near a port in the north of the island, in a particularly dangerous rocky area.
All those on board were from sub-Saharan Africa and told the emergency services that they had left two days earlier from the town of Tan-Tan, located in southern Morocco and some 250 kilometers to the east. from Lanzarote.
110 other arrivals in one evening
Two other boats carrying 110 migrants (96 men, 8 women and six minors) arrived overnight from Thursday to Friday on two other Canary Islands, according to the rescue services. The arrivals of migrants to the Canaries from the African coasts, at the end of a particularly dangerous crossing due to the strong currents and the condition of the boats, have increased since the end of 2019 and the tightening of controls in the Mediterranean. Last year, a record year since another migration crisis in 2006, 23,023 migrants reached the Spanish archipelago, eight times more than the previous year, according to the Interior Ministry.
According to the International Organization for Migration, 850 migrants died or disappeared on this migratory route in 2020. The NGO Caminando Fronteras claims that at least 1851 people lost their lives in 2020 while trying to reach the Canaries .
The flow of arrivals has not stopped since the start of the year. From January 1 to June 15, 5,734 migrants arrived in the Canaries according to the Interior Ministry, which is twice as many as over the same period of 2020. NGOs regularly alert on the situation and the reception conditions of these migrants to the Canaries. Many end up sleeping in the street, for lack of space in the accommodation centers. "We can not treat people worse," denounced Tuesday the president of Médecins du Monde Spain, Nieves Turienzo, according to which the poor reception conditions of these migrants cause illnesses and mental disorders.
At the end of April, a makeshift boat that was drifting off the Canary Islands was found with the corpses of 24 migrants on board.
And in March, a two-year-old Malian girl died after several days of agony in a hospital in the Canaries after being picked up by rescuers aboard a makeshift boat.
Gateway to Europe for migrants, Spain faced another unprecedented wave of migration in mid-May with the influx of some 11,000 people, according to the prefecture, in two days in the enclave of Ceuta, located in northern Morocco, thanks to a relaxation of controls by Rabat against the backdrop of a diplomatic crisis between the two countries.