This Monday it is being reported that around 2,500 migrants have arrived since Friday, on the coasts of The Canary Islands, and that the make shift camp on the Arguineguín dock has once again overflowed with new arrivals on the south of Gran Canaria. Nearly 500 migrants have arrived just this Monday morning. The highest number to arrive in one weekend since 2006, numbering around 2,000 arrived on Saturday and Sunday, in 45 boats, with comparisons continuing to be made to the record breaking crisis that saw more than 39,000 Africans arriving in the Archipelago 14 years ago. So far this year has seen the second highest number of irregular arrivals by boat ever recorded, now in the region of 15,000 so far this year, 1,500 of them unaccompanied minors, with nearly 1000 more having thought to have died in the attempt.
The situation has continued to generate friction with local residents and fishermen, 300 of whom marched on Saturday through the town, following a banner that said “Stop Illegal Immigration”, clearly a different message to the narrative the local town hall have tried to create, who claim the demonstrations were not in fact anti-imigration or xenophobic, but instead protests against their inhumane treatment, referring to the hundreds of migrants forced to camp on tarmac along the Arguineguín harbour wall while they await Covid-19 test results and other accommodation. Tensions have become evident too between the Canary Islands and the central government, in Madrid, after Spain’s Interior Minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, visited Arguineguín last Friday, after having failed to present any solid or immediate solutions. Canary Islands vice president, Román Rodríguez, reproached him yesterday for his “lack of commitment” to the migration crisis that the Archipelago is experiencing.
The flow of boats toward the coasts of The Canary Islands was continuous on both Saturday and Sunday. Gran Canaria has been the island most affected by the phenomenon, due to the main Marine Search and Rescue vessels stationed there, and in just a few hours the Arguineguín reception camp, originally intended for no more than 400 at a time, numbered more than 1,500 migrants being cared for by the Red Cross, under the watchful eye of national police and other security forces. The current facilities are completely insufficient due to the large number of arrivals occurring in such a short space of time.
The vice president of the regional government and Minister of Finance, Román Rodríguez, used his Twitter account yesterday to attack Fernando Grande-Marlaska since, in his opinion, after two visits this year to the Islands to address the migration crisis – in February and last week – there have been “few commitments” and promises that have not been kept “while the trickle of people arriving by sea continues.”
The Nueva Canarias (NC) leader, demanded more resources and a “defined and planned” policy be put in place as well as urgent commitments to work in solidarity with the rest of the State to deal with “ the 1,500 unaccompanied foreign minors that we safeguard”.
Rodríguez reiterated his demand for the State and the EU to cooperate more with the countries of origin, improvement of surveillance and rescue systems, humanitarian assistance with decent facilities and referrals both to the Peninsula and to other countries of the European continent.