Africans cross to Spanish islands in record numbers

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Huge numbers of migrants have landed on the shores of the Canary Islands in the past few days, according to online sources.

As at Monday, local rescue services counted 1,492 arrivals.

On October 21, more than 1,000 migrants arrived on the Spanish islands.

It is said that of that number, 321 came on the same boat, breaking the record of October 3, when 271 people arrived on a single boat.

The Red Cross said 783 people landed on El Hierro island on Saturday, 98 of that number arrived in Tenerife and 150 in Gran Canaria.

Also, the Gran Canaria Coastguard hauled a wooden boat containing migrants, including a toddler, into the port of Arguineguin.

Similar vessels used by previous arrivals are docked in the port.

An emergency services spokesman said all the migrants were from Sub-Saharan Africa.

Spain’s interior ministry made the claim earlier that 23,537 people reached the Canaries between January 1 and October 15. That signifies an 80 per cent increase from the same period last year, as official data show.

There was a large increase of these crossings over the past four weeks, which saw 8,561 arrivals, the highest number since 2006 during the Cayuco Crisis in which some 6,000 migrants died at sea.

El Hierro, with a population of only 11,000 people, has now emerged as a primary destination, increasing the population.

It saw more than 5,000 arrivals in the first week of this month of October.

Historically, migrants tended to go to Lanzarote but it appears they now prefer El Hierro, as it is further from the Mauritanian and Moroccan shores, making it more difficult for those two nations’ security authorities to intercept them.

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The major cause

The large rise in migration to Spain is partly the result of upheaval in Senegal, where violence erupted after the opposition leader was jailed. That further adds to growing destabilization in the wider Sahel region.

Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Gabon, Mali, Niger and Sudan are currently all ruled by military juntas, following a string of coups in recent years.

So far this year, at least 1,000 people have died attempting the crossing to the Canary Islands, according to the Walking Borders charity.

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