Since June, the number of migrants crossing by boat to the Spanish islands has increased. The increase began after violent demonstrations against President Macky Sall, which left 23 people dead.
An above average number of boats arrived in the Canary Islands in August and September. This month, the increase has suddenly become exceptionally rapid, reaching 11,000 migrants in the first three weeks of October. That’s roughly what it was like for the months of January to September combined.
Large flow leads to problems. For example, more than 1,300 migrants arrived in El Hierro, one of the smallest of the Canary Islands, in two days. Only 10,000 people live there and El Hierro has 16 police officers. It was announced this afternoon that an unknown number of migrants have been diagnosed with tuberculosis at the El Hierro shelter.
The Spanish government declared a state of emergency on the islands. Army patrol boats and planes are on their way. Now that the state of emergency has entered into force, it has become possible to designate hotels as reception sites, but the authorities have not yet done so. Currently, they are trying to relieve the pressure by distributing the migrants across the different islands.
Immigrants from Senegal are looking for a place where the economy is better. “Life in Senegal is difficult,” says African correspondent Sophie van Leeuwen. “Youth unemployment is high. Many Senegalese eat only once a day. The situation is absolutely hopeless.”
Migrants’ chances of being recognized as refugees are slim. Senegal is included in the European list of safe countries. According to Van Leeuwen, this is true. “It is one of the safest countries in West Africa, although there is political unrest. Several people have been killed in violent protests this summer. As in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, there is a lot of criticism of the former colonizer in Senegal. France hopes the opposition Winning the election next year.”
In the Canary Islands, the number of migrants today has reached more than 24 thousand since the beginning of the year. This is the highest number since 2006. The influx also means a shift in immigration numbers for Spain as a whole. They were decreasing. Last year, more than 31,000 migrants arrived in Spain, but this year the number has reached about 40,000 so far.
According to the Spanish government, the downward trend was the result of intense diplomatic consultations with countries in Africa. Spain has a left-wing government that, unlike the Italian government, for example, does not use strong anti-immigration texts. Spain chose to make trade agreements with Senegal so that money could enter the country, but that was a drop in the ocean for Senegalese who sometimes had little to eat.
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