The president of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria island Government, Antonio Morales, this Saturday urgently requested that migrants arriving on the island be transferred to mainland Spain and to Europe as quickly as possible, because, in his words, The Canary Islands “should not become a prison” for people who reach its shores in boats or pateras, saying that he wants migrants quickly moved on.

He was visiting the Arguineguín harbour wall (in the southwestern municipality of Mogán), where 222 migrants remained still, and Morales reaffirmed his view that the solution is not to transfer these people temporarily to different facilities around the island, but instead to facilitate their leaving the Canary Islands, to head for the peninsula and Europe.

More hotels can be enabled, to accommodate arriving migrants but when the winter season begins “what do we do?”

“We can continue searching and hosting, but until when?” the president asked himself rhetorically.

For Morales, that “the transfer of these people be made possible,” is of the highest priority, because “it is what they themselves also demand, to reach Europe, work and reach places where they have family and friends.”

The 222 migrants at the Arguineguín dock are waiting for PCR tests and results so as to verify their covid-19 coronavirus status.

“We do not want Gran Canaria to be a prison for them,” Morales said, adding that it is because Europe has quite successfully “closed the Mediterranean corridor, that only this route remains, the most dangerous, but right now the only one.”

It is likely that migrants “will continue to arrive”, he warned, for which he has asked that “the detection systems for these vessels be improved because there is a part of the island where it does not work” saying he thinks it to be “absolutely necessary” that there is full coordination between the ministries of the central government.

Of the highest importance is that measures are taken “to transfer these people to the European continent” and thereby avoid repeating the drama of Moria (Greece), where 13,000 people are crowded in to camps. “This drama cannot be reproduced” on this island, he stressed, making clear that he wants migrants quickly moved on elsewhere.

He demanded from the various administrations “more coordination, transparency and information to row in the same direction”, with a “shared” workload that facilitates the de-escalation of “rejection, social alarm and fear”, division which lead to “xenophobic groups and racism by far-right groups.”

For her part, the mayor of Mogán, agreed on the need to allow migrants to continue on their way because “her expectation” is that they should not try to stay in Spain.