Five “Pateras” (open boats) arrived to the archipelago this Saturday carrying a total of 62 African migrants. 2020 has seen growing numbers risk their lives to try to reach European shores, via this, one of the most dangerous routes in the world. Four boats landed on Gran Canaria and one on Fuerteventura, according to information provided by the Spanish Marine Rescue, Salvamento Marítimo, the Red Cross and the main 112 emergency coordination centre.

Friday brought three boats; another three had come on Thursday totalling about 50 occupants; and on Wednesday five boats arrived carrying about 78 occupants.  More and more people are attempting to cross from the coasts of Africa. Several deaths have been recently recorded, and there are likely to have been many that went undetected.

The first boat on Saturday was picked up in the early morning by a Maritime Rescue vessel south of Gran Canaria, with 12 Maghrebi people on board.

The second of the day managed to get all the way to Veneguera beach, on the west coast of Gran Canaria, at around 6.15 pm, A large numbers of locals watched as eight more Maghrebi men came ashore, and almost at the same time a third boat, with two men on board, was detected off the coast of Fuerteventura, disembarking in Caleta de Fuste. The men were detained as soon as they landed, after having sailed parallel to the coast for several kilometers, seemingly trying to evade emergency teams who were calling to them from the coast.

Back on Gran Canaria 14 Maghrebi men disembarked at the popular tourist resort Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria, on the south west coast of Mogán, while reports of another vessel allegedly sighted on the nearby Amadores beach ultimately turned out to be a false alarm.

Last of all, around 10:40 p.m., Salvamento Marítimo reported that the Red Cross had helped a boat carrying 26 sub-Saharan migrants, picked up in waters near the south of Gran Canaria, with 16 men, 7 women and 3 children transferred to the port of Arguineguín.

A spokeswoman for the NGO Caminando Fronteras has told Spanish News Agency Efe that this boat coincides with a dinghy known to have left Dakhla (Western Sahara) on Thursday morning, a city located some 450 kilometers from the Canary Islands.

As well as these five known arrivals, more may be confirmed through the night, following the return of the rescue vessel Salvamar Menkalinan which spent the afternoon at sea, south of Gran Canaria in search of another boat thought to be heading towards the El Berriel aerodrome and the San Agustín beach, where  Security forces have been monitoring the coast.

On Friday tensions grew as news of empty tourist apartments being used to temporarily accommodate migrants who had been sleeping on the Arguineguín dockside.  Elsewhere on Gran Canaria a group of angry canarians threw stones at a facility for migrant children who are being cared for by the State.

Meanwhile racists, xenophobes and worried citizens, facing ever growing economic hardships in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, continue to ignorantly share completely baseless imagery and videos, that tend to promote outrage among many more of their kind, often falsely reporting on the conduct and activities of migrants taken into the care of the Spanish state here on the islands.

Disgusting and disappointing statements continue to be spread, simply put, promoting murder and heartlessness, and too often pretending that those arriving here are running amuck, when the actuality is that all migrants are held in controlled environments as soon as they arrive to these shores.

That all said, the continuing increase in people, who risk everything to try to make the journey to these islands in inadequate boats, is bound to raise tensions across society as citizens battle with job losses, uncertainty, tourism declines and closing businesses.

The situation is in danger of fast becoming a tinderbox.  We all need to calmly call out lies and deceit when we see it, and clearly say #NoBulo whenever people try to incite hatred and division among us.  Everything right now is already hard enough, without liars trying to feed us fear as well.