Spain’s Migration Minister, José Luis Escrivá, has decided to delay his trip scheduled for this week to the Canary Islands. The Canary Islands demands a comprehensive response to the growing migrant crisis.

The President of the Government of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres, in statements to journalists, said “powerful reasons” have prevented Escrivá’s visit this week, but that a “precise and immediate” solution was required to deal with the continuous arrival of migrants in boats, known as pateras or cayucos, and that, after learning that the trip was postponed, he has spoken this Monday with the First Vice President of the Government, Carmen Calvo.

The Canarian president says he insisted that Calvo respond to the problems arising from the continuous arrival of migrants, such as the need to set up adequate centers to accommodate them, increased surveillance and assistance, as well as their repatriation and transit.

The Government of the Canary Islands demands a comprehensive response “in a very short space of time” to this phenomenon, stressed Torres, who has made clear that in his opinion the short-term solution of accommodating migrants in tourist complexes must be an “exception.”

Torres has insisted that we do not play politics with a human drama such as migration, referring to those who encourage “more xenophobia, more hatred, more unreason and more injustice.”  He made clear his position, and that of The Canary Islands Government “These people who arrive are victims. You would not want to live in their neighborhoods, their towns in their country. They do so haunted by hunger, by war, even by the current pandemic situation.” he said.

Escrivá’s visit was set at the end of last July, in a telematic meeting that he held with the President and Spain’s Health Minister, Salvador Illa, to address the problems associated with COVID19

Torres has asked the central government to set up military spaces, detention centres for foreigners and other State infrastructures to accommodate those arriving by boat, because “the situation is desperate”, calling it “a drama.”

In a radio interview this Monday, Torres was asked about the saturation of the current reception network on the islands, in a year in which the arrivals of migrants have multiplied by six. This Sunday 332 people spent the night crowded into tents on the Arguineguín dock (Gran Canaria) while waiting for other resources to be made available.

The Canary Islands president emphasised that both his Government, as well as the island cabildos, and “some municipalities” have made spaces available for the reception of those arriving, despite not having competence in the matter, and has invited the rest of the consistories to collaborate.

Ángel Víctor Torres has said that he understands the controversial decision to temporarily adapt a tourist complex, in Maspalomas (Gran Canaria), not currently in use due to the decline in tourist numbers and the subsequent crisis that the sector has suffered because of the coronavirus, with more than 200 migrants having been relocated to a set of empty apartments, but he has stressed that this is just a “transitional” solution.

“Accommodation spaces have been enabled, although this is not a solution, because they are places for guests, but it has been done as a temporary measure and for a limited time. I believe that military spaces, CIE (Centros de Internamiento de Extranjeros – Foreigner Interment Centres) and central government infrastructures have to be opened.” he said, calling the whole episode a “drama”.

Furthermore, Torres has explained that he has asked the Ministry of the Interior to reinforce surveillance of the Canary Islands coasts, and to ensure at least some of the migrants are transferred to other centres on the Peninsula “as happened in the past”.