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More people have died trying to reach The Canary Islands in open boats this year than in all of 2020

More people have died trying to reach The Canary Islands in open boats this year than in all of 2020

Almost 2,100 people have died or disappeared in the first half of 2021 travelling in open boats bound for Spain (2,087) warns Caminando Fronteras. Mostly trying to reach The Canary Islands. A 526% increase compared to the first half of 2020.

The current total is nearly as many as were counted in all of 2020 (2,170), making 2021 a year that threatens to become the most dramatic in history and in the midst of a diplomatic crisis with Morocco that, the NGO say, is killing people on the Canary Route.  The latest Spanish Ministry of Interior report says there have already been well over double the amount of arrivals, having already increased this year by 156%.  All in all 2021 is predicted to see further increases in migratory flows attempting to reach The Canary Islands.

Migrant Arrivals to Canary Islands by sea Jan 1 – Jun 30 2021 Source: Ministry of Interior

The Caminando Fronteras Collective, this morning presented to the Spanish press data obtained as part of their “Monitoring of the Right to Life” 2021 report. The data are the result of exhaustive monitoring carried out 365 days a year by the Collective. Migrant communities, rescue services, family networks and Human Rights defenders in the field collect, contrast and systematise the information. Caminando Fronteras are often the only entity to notify the Salvamento Maritimo, Spanish maritime rescue, of boats leaving the coasts of Africa to attempt irregular migration on the Mediterranean and Canary Routes.  Part of their outreach work includes handing out their telephone or whatsapp details, at various city ports, for anyone who finds themselves in trouble to call for help.

“We call on the Spanish State to react, so that by the end of 2021 we are not talking about a catastrophic year at the border,” said Helena Maleno, spokeswoman for the group, when presenting the data detailing the 79 tragedies at sea that they have been able to document since January, in contact with the authorities of Spain and Morocco, but, above all, with the families of the victims.

According to Caminando Fronteras, 1,922 people have died or disappeared in the Atlantic since January trying to reach the Canary Islands, to which are added another 165 people who have perished in the Mediterranean: 93 on the Alboran Route, 36 in the Strait of Gibraltar and 36 others in boats departed from the Algerian coast. In all of 2020 there were 1,851 victims of the Canarian route.

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