Latest Gran Canaria News, Views & Sunshine
Jan, 2023 |
Masks will no longer be required on public transport, though they will remain necessary in healthcare establishments and services, and for workers and visitors attending healthcare and social care facilities.
Jan, 2023 |
The Mogán Local Council on Friday installed new sun beds and umbrellas on Playa de Mogán, beginning direct management of seasonal services of this popular beach, along with the other six beaches for which it now holds corresponding authorisations: Las Marañuelas, Costa Alegre, Taurito, El Cura, Aquamarina and Patalavaca. Since last summer they have also been in control of direct exploitation of Puerto Rico and El Perchel beaches. The majority of these coastal tourism enclaves were managed by private companies who held the concessions, some of which had been in place for decades.
Jan, 2023 |
Tenteniguada Almond Blossom Festival
It’s the last weekend of January and exactly two weeks to go until the 2023 Carnival season starts on Gran Canaria. This weekend will most probably be enjoyed with a drop of wet weather, Sunday being forecast as the rainiest. The southern tourist enclaves look to also see a bit of cloud cover and even a small chance of seeing a few drops of rain. However you look at it, it may be handy to have umbrellas and raincoats around during the days to come. There is even the possibility of some snow on the mountains as we head into next week.
Jan, 2023 |
More than half of all Canary Islands properties sold last year were bought by foreigners, more than half of those non-residents
Jan, 2023 |
While we still await final figures for the last quarter of 2022, the latest official data from The Canary Islands has shown foreigners are buying more homes in the Canary Islands than ever before. The number of real estate acquisitions by non-residents in the Canary Islands has risen 52% compared to the same period in 2021, and is already 16% higher than the highest ever record set in 2017.
Canary Islands working with Spain to better share responsibility for migrant minors, and employment rights for government workers, taking control of coastal management and planning
Ángel Víctor Torres, the President of the Canary Islands, met in Madrid this Tuesday with Spain’s Minister of Territorial Policy and Public Function, Miquel Iceta, to conclude the process of transferring strategic competences, including coastal management, financial protection and promotion of market competition, from central State control to the Regional Executive. They also discussed the urgent need to amend the laws regarding migrant minors and employment rights for government workers.
After the meeting, the president appeared before journalists to announce “the good news” that before the summer, preferably by June, a Bilateral Canary Islands and Spanish State Cooperation Commission will be inaugurated in the Canary Islands, which will include a Commission of Transfers – where the official transfer of the responsibility for coastal management and planning will take place, thus resolving “an old demand of the Archipelago” which has been included in the new Statute of Autonomy of the Canary Islands, in force since November 6 of 2018.
The Canarian president expressed his sense of satisfaction with the transfer of powers for such a strategic issue as coastal management, which will be now be concluded, following interruption to the process due to the outbreak of the pandemic, a long sought after transfer “which is finally going to be a reality this summer,” he said.
Regarding the financial protection of local corporations in the region and to defend competition in the markets – two key competences whose transfer had already begun -, President Torres announced that protocols will be signed by the Government of Spain and the Government of the Canary Islands with the purpose of establishing the resources and means necessary to make the transfer of these powers to the Autonomous Community viable, and to resolve difficulties such as those presented, for example, by financial protection .
As part of the meetings with the Minister of Territorial Policy and Public Function, Ángel Víctor Torres, relayed the realities of the migration crisis in the Canary Islands and, in particular, the situation with migrant minors. Torres explained that there are currently more than 2,600 migrant minors under the care of the Canary Islands Government, “something that has never occurred, not even in 2006 with the ‘crisis of the cayucos’, when [just] 500 minors arrived on the Islands despite the fact that more people reached the coast than during the current crisis ”.
It is the president’s view that it will be necessary to adapt the current legislative framework to the existing situation, since the law for the protection of minors was created to provide care for minors registered in each autonomous community, and not for minors who arrive irregularly “in such great volume “, the president said. Torres explained that the minister has promised to study a legislative amendment and activate formulas that will help to ensure that the migratory reality is shared with the other autonomous communities of Spain.
Modification of the Basic Statute for Public Employees
The Presidency of the Government of the Canary Islands and the Ministry of Territorial Policy and Public Function also addressed the problem of temporary employees within the Public Administrations who in many cases must chain temporary employment contracts for many years at a time. Torres raised the need to seek consensus mechanisms that respond to the expectations of workers who are in this situation.
In this sense, Torres stressed that the minister has committed to carry out, in the coming months, a modification in the Basic Statute of the Employee, which is being worked on also with the autonomous communities.
Finally, Ángel Víctor Torres thanked Miquel Iceta and his team for holding the meeting – the first held by the Minister of Territorial Policy with a president of the autonomous community – which “has been very satisfactory,” he concluded.
The British Embassy in Madrid have forwarded an update for UK Nationals as a reminder of the requirements for living as an immigrant in Spain
An update for UK Nationals from The British Embassy in Madrid
From 1 January, UK Nationals have been able to spend 90 days out of every 180 within the Schengen area for tourism or other specific purposes, such as business meetings, without needing a visa. Any stays beyond the 90 days will be dependent on Spain’s visa and immigration rules and any UK Nationals who would like to discuss extending their stay should contact their local extranjería office or call 060.
All foreign nationals intending to stay in Spain for longer than three months have always been obliged to register for residency – whatever their nationality. Therefore if you arrived in Spain before 1 January you must take steps to become resident if you consider your home to be here. Otherwise, you should be arranging to return to the UK. If you are trying to become resident and are in the process of registering or appealing against your application having been rejected, the 90-day rule does not apply to you.
Living and working in Spain – Your Essential Guide for UK nationals living in Spain before 1 January 2021.
Brits in Spain:
Living and working in Spain – Your Essential Guide for UK nationals living in Spain before 1 January 2021.
The British Embassy in Madrid have produced a series of short guides to advise UK nationals who were legally living in Spain before 1 January 2021, what their rights in Spain are.
Here is their key information for living and working in Spain. On Friday there will be a guide for issues related to Travel and Pet Passports.
The links at the end of this video are:
1. Living in Spain guide: www.gov.uk/livinginpain
2. The document to show the validity of the green certificate: https://www.inclusion.gob.es/ficheros/brexit/nota_aclaratoria_green_certificate.pdf
Posted by TheCanary.TV on Thursday, April 1, 2021
HMA Hugh Elliott said:
“I’m aware that many second home owners are concerned about overstaying as we reach 31 March. The Spanish Government has been clear that it will take a pragmatic approach to anyone who is stuck in Spain due to circumstances beyond their control, so I don’t want people to be overly worried on that count. However, if people do not intend to become resident here in Spain and see the UK as their base, we do expect them to take steps to return to the UK as soon as they can.”
A Spanish Ministry of Inclusion spokesperson said “The Spanish Government is working to provide maximum legal certainty for British citizens resident in Spain. Throughout the negotiations, the issue of citizens’ rights has been, and remains, one of the main priorities. Spain is the country of residence of the largest community of UK nationals in the EU.
“The Spanish Government has no plans to deport British citizens who have made Spain their home and, for this reason, Spain has been one of the first EU countries to establish a documentation procedure under the Withdrawal Agreement, which consists of a declaratory system to apply for the new residence permit (TIE). We remind British citizens that, although there is no time limit, it is important to make this application as soon as possible as, among other things, it will facilitate the administrative processing and the crossing of the external borders of the European Union.”
If you are in the UK and considering travelling to Spain or are in Spain and have friends or family wanting to visit, you should be aware of the continuing travel restrictions on both leaving the UK and entering Spain. UK Nationals must make sure that they meet both the requirements to leave the UK and those to enter Spain, bearing in mind that they are not the same. From 30 March, entry to Spain will only be granted to those passengers who can demonstrate that their journey is essential, as well as to those who are already legally resident in Spain. Entering merely to visit, even if you have a second home here, is not a justified reason for entry. You may be questioned on arrival by Spanish border authorities to ensure you meet the entry requirements and they will only grant entry if they are satisfied that your journey to Spain is essential and reserve the right to deny passage. Ultimately, the decision on whether to grant entry into Spain is made by Spanish border officials as set out in our Travel Advice. For the latest information and links to the restrictions on leaving the UK and entering Spain, the British Embassy in Madrid advise people to visit the Travel Advice page on gov.uk and sign up for alerts, so that they are notified of any changes: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain
*Reminder: Our next Q&A will be next Thursday 8 April at 18:00 CET*
It will be streamed live from this page, and will…
Posted by Brits in Spain on Thursday, April 1, 2021
Here are some extra notes to remember:
Since 1 January 2021, British tourists have been able to travel visa-free for tourism or other specific purposes across the Schengen Area (except for Covid-19 restrictions) for up to 90 days in a rolling 180-day period. Anyone wishing to extend their stay, or become a worker or permanent resident will need to apply to the local authorities under Spain’s domestic immigration rules.
If you are unable to return to the UK before the expiry of your visa/permit or visa-free limit due to C-19 restrictions, you should contact your local immigration office (Extranjería) for advice. You can also call 060 from a Spanish phone line.
Due to Covid-19, restrictions on entry from the UK into Spain have been in place since January 2021. Only Spanish nationals, UK nationals resident in Spain and other limited categories of entry are permitted. Please see FCDO Travel Advice for Spain for further details: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain
UK nationals and their family members who were lawfully resident in Spain before the end of the transition period, on 31 December 2020, can continue to live, work, study and access benefits and services, such as healthcare, broadly as they did before the UK left the EU.
Their rights are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement, whether or not they have registered for residency. Anyone who has not yet done so, should register for residency and apply for a TIE card which can be used to evidence their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. Previous versions of this document (also known as the ‘green residency document’) remain valid. More than 360,000 UK nationals in Spain have already registered.
The procedure for applying the resident document, which has been in place since 6 July 2020, distinguishes between those who already had a registration certificate or family member card of an EU citizen, and those who did not.
Those arriving after the transitional period, i.e. from 1 January 2021, will fall under the general immigration regulations. For more information visit:http://extranjeros.inclusion.gob.es/es/InformacionInteres/InformacionProcedimientos/index.html
The UK Government provides detailed advice for UK nationals in our Living in Spain Guide online at: www.gov.uk/livinginspain; and the Spanish Government has also produced a detailed Q+A document on residency in English: https://www.inclusion.gob.es/ficheros/brexit/guia_brexit_2020_en.pdf
Some more useful information:
Living in Spain: Healthcare
Brits in Spain:
Healthcare: Your Essential Guide – UK nationals living in Spain before 1 January 2021.
The British Embassy in Madrid have produced a series of short videos to advise UK nationals who were legally living in Spain before 1 January 2021, what their rights in Spain are.
This one takes a look at Healthcare. There is also a video on Living and Working in Spain and on Friday they will share their guide to Travel and Pet Passports for UK nationals living in Spain before 1 January 2021.
The link at the end of this video is: www.gov.uk/healthcareinspain
Posted by TheCanary.TV on Thursday, April 1, 2021
The Canary News
Detained without bail: Three Ukrainian crew members from the hashish smuggling Panamanian-flagged fishing vessel intercepted last weekend
The Central Court of Instruction number 6 has agreed to the three Ukrainian nationals being detained without bail, all crew members from the Panamanian-flagged fishing vessel intercepted last weekend in the Atlantic, more than 300km south of the Canary Islands, which was found to be carrying a total of 18,985 kg of hashish, while they await trial.
Legal sources have reported that the National Court judge decided to send the three detainees to prison without bail for an alleged crime against public health due to the aggravating factor of this huge amount, the largest such haul by Spanish authorities of notorious importance, after taking their statements by videoconference from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, where they have been since the ship was intercepted last Saturday.
Judicial provision for the operation (the warrant) – which usually must be carried out within a maximum of 72 hours – had to be extended until the authorities were able to ensure the rescue of more than 30 people that the Customs Surveillance Agents had found adrift and calling for help, from a dinghy on the open seas, at the very same time that they were heading to proceed to intercept the fishing vessel.
Legal sources point out that Judge Gadea agreed to delay the interrogations of the detainees to “prioritise the lives of these people over the mission they were entrusted with” in order to ensure assistance and rescue for the more than 30 migrants.
Operation Avio began last Friday, March 26, and concluded in the early hours of Saturday morning with the interception of the fishing vessel, named Albatros Guard VSL, when they were about 170 nautical miles southwest of the island of Gran Canaria. The agents seised 18,985 kilos of hashish and 595 bales. The accused will be detained without bail until their trial.
Fourteen men arrested by National Police including the skippers of seven boats that recently arrived on the coasts of Gran Canaria and Lanzarote
Spanish National Police have arrested a total of fourteen men on Gran Canaria and Lanzarote as alleged perpetrators of crimes connected to illegal immigration, three of them were charged also for belonging to a criminal organisation and another four for reckless homicide.
All of them were identified by migrants as the people who supplied and navigated the boats, which recently arrived on the coasts of Arguineguín, in Mogán (Gran Canaria), Órzola and Arrecife (Lanzarote). A total of 249 people travelled there in these boats, 55 of whom were minors, without any type of security measures, life jackets, food or drink. Four of the migrants died during the journey and one more after having been admitted to a hospital in Gran Canaria due to the terrible conditions on the trip.
The vessels arrived between December 27, 2020 and March 25, 2021 to the coasts of Gran Canaria and Lanzarote.
Spanish National Police have arrested a total of fourteen men on Gran Canaria and Lanzarote as alleged perpetrators of crimes connected to illegal immigration, three of them were charged also for belonging to a criminal organisation and another four for reckless homicide.
Read More: https://www.facebook.com/TheCanaryNews/posts/4088772881145590
Posted by TheCanary.TV on Thursday, April 1, 2021
Six days at sea and five dead migrants
A total of 249 people travelled on these vessels, of which 55 were minors, and who sailed for days in boats whose safety and security measures were insufficient to make this journey. In addition, throughout the journey the migrants lacked sufficient food and water, so many were forced to drink sea water, leading to a worsening of their condition.
Specifically, one of the open boats carrying 52 migrants spent six days at sea until being rescued by Salvamento Marítimo (Marine Rescue) more than 130 nautical miles south of the island of Gran Canaria. Those on board declared that they had run out of water on the third day of the crossing, so they began to drink sea water. Four migrants died during the journey and one more in the hospital, due to the terrible conditions on the trip.
After being treated by members of the Red Cross, some of them were admitted to hospitals on Gran Canaria due to their compromised state of health.
The National Police began an investigation that identified fourteen of the members on these vessels as the people responsible for their handling and navigation. The police investigation culminated in the arrest of all of them, accused as perpetrators of illegal immigration crimes, three of them also for belonging to a criminal organisation, and another four for reckless homicide.
The police efforts also made it possible to verify that two of the bosses arrested in Arrecife, a 53 year old and a 55 year old both of Moroccan nationality, have numerous prior police records.
Once the corresponding police reports were issued, all the detainees were placed at the disposal of the competent Judicial Authorities, who ordered eight of them into prison, while another six were awaiting judicial disposition.
The Canary News
Migratory flows headed for the Canary Islands continue to worry the Regional Government who fear “a constant humanitarian crisis”
Migratory flows, headed for the Canary Islands, continue to worry the Canary Islands Government, in particular the increases in two vulnerable groups: minors, whether accompanied or not, and women, particularly pregnant women. In fact, data from the last two weeks reinforce this upward trend with 75 [supposed] minors (pending medical confirmation) and 94 women having arrived on the islands in recent days and weeks. The changing profile of migrant arrivals, with respect to the 2006 crisis, a record year in which nearly 32,000 individuals arrived on Canary Islands shores, UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) attributes to several factors, including the intensification of conflicts in various countries of origin and the effects of the global pandemic, among other causal influences.
“The Canary Islands cannot live in a constant crisis”, declared Canary Islands Minister for Social Rights, Noemí Santana, yesterday at a press conference following a meeting of the Canarian Immigration Forum , where social agents and host NGOs, involved in the reception and care of migrant arrivals, shared information and perspectives with the general director for Inclusion, Maite Pacheco, the Spanish President of the Commission for Civil Liberties of the European Parliament (LIBE), Juan Fernando López Aguilar, and the UNHCR’s international spokesperson, Sophie Muller, among others. The results from that meeting were translated into an update of the Canary Island Immigration Plan and a declaration which they intend to submit to the Canary Islands Governing Council for their adoption and transfer to other institutions. The intention now is to make the archipelago a benchmark in migration management, not only responding to the current situation, but also generating resources for the future. According to Santana, Canarian society will be directly involved – through NGOs, trade unions, employers and third sector agents – and both the central Executive, in Madrid, and the European Union will be asked to be jointly responsible for management of the phenomenon.
Likewise, the Canary Islands have pointed out the need for a law that requires a “responsible” distribution of unaccompanied migrant minors among all the autonomous communities, with the aim that the burden of guardianship does not fall solely on recipient territories. “The Canary Islands are willing to assume their share but we cannot leave the problem in the hands of the will of autonomous communities, we must legislate”. At the moment, agreements have been reached to transfer 200 minors to different regions of the Spanish mainland, that is to say less than 10% of those currently hosted here on the islands, but only 32 minors have so far been transferred: 10 to Castilla y León, 14 to Extramdura and 8 to Navarra.
“The Canary Islands cannot live a constant humanitarian crisis, we must act”NAOMI SANTANA
“Dignified care for migrants involves working together, we cannot do it alone,” said the Minister. “Given the complex migratory reality, specific and credible funds are required.” Santana pointed out the work the Canary Islands Regional Government has already been doing, to care for minors, with the opening of 29 emergency centres to accommodate the growing number that has now reached nearly 2,700 being sheltered. Following the previous crisis, the number of places available had been reduced, to just 600, and many centres were dismantled “as if the Canary Islands had changed their geographical location.”
Controversially, three of the new temporary centres were located in empty hotels, on the south of Gran Canaria, due to the total lack of alternative spaces, and only possible due to the total collapse of tourist arrivals because of covid restrictions on travel. One of these has already been closed and the other two are expected to close in the coming months, ahead of any attempts to restart tourism.
Several residents, as many as 50, in the usually popular tourist resort town of Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria, living in tiny apartments originally constructed as short-stay tourism complexes, and subsequently sold to, primarily foreign, residential buyers, have complained for weeks about migrants having been temporarily accommodated in, otherwise out-of-use, 2-star and 3-star hotels.
Though almost all adult migrants have now been transferred to Foreigner Internment Camps, the issue of protecting under-eighteen-year-olds has been more complex to resolve. Few people are more upset, or vocal, than the unfortunate residents living near to hastily organised emergency accommodations set up to house unaccompanied minors, which they say are plainly not fit for purpose. Much of their upset follows at least three very noisy incidents, caused by frustrated youths cooped up in apartments and, in at least two particular situations where adult migrants, pretending to be under 18, have instigated serious disturbances, including violence, that required police intervention in full protective riot gear. Arrests were made and the perpetrators jailed.
Many that have spoken to The Canary News feel abandoned in a situation outside of their control, with little communication, or understanding, between the authorities and local residents, who claim their previously dead-quiet hillside streets, overlooking the town, have, in the last two months, turned into daily gathering points for large numbers of disaffected and otherwise unoccupied migrant youths, under the guardianship of NGOs specialising in child protection and youth social services on behalf of the regional government.
The Full Editor’s Comments are available to Supporters of GranCanaria.NEWS
With regards to the presence of minors, in adult detention centres and vice versa, Noemí Santana indicated that an attempt is being made to respond with improvements to the initial filiation of immigrants upon arrival at the coasts, through the presence of social entities specialised in dealing with minors at the port, since the Government depends on the results of bone tests to confirm whether an individual is a minor and to carry out their functions as legally responsible guardians for those under the age of 18.
The forum also drew urgent attention to the need to act in the face of “not less than a thousand migrant deaths” at sea over the last year, primarily on the Ruta Canaria, according to UNHCR estimates, a number they consider “minimal” due to the lack of data. Additionally, participants explored the possibility of adapting available resources or opening centres segregated by gender, to prevent women from having to stay in the same centres as men, where there are currently just a small number of places reserved for them, and thus to be able to improve attention offered to them as a vulnerable group.
Today we send a very clear message: the Canary Islands cannot live in a permanent humanitarian crisis.
Today we have reconvened the Canarian Immigration Forum, for the second time, and with the presence of all the relevant institutions and the third sector.
— Noemí Santana Perera (@noepmp) March 29, 2021
Today we send a very clear message: the Canary Islands cannot live in a permanent humanitarian crisis.Today we have reconvened the Canarian Immigration Forum, for the second time, and with the presence of all the institutions and the third sector.
36 [assumed] minorsYoung migrants that have reached the Canary Islands in the last week, following the predicted increase in boats arriving, to which are added another 39 the previous week. A trend that no longer only encompasses unaccompanied minors, but now also those who embark with family members.
200 placesThis is the current expected number of minors who will be transferred to other regional communities in Spain, although at the moment only Castilla y León (10), Extremadura (14) and Navarra (8) have actually transported young people from the islands to be cared for elsewhere.
69 womenThis is how many were travelling in the boats that have arrived to the Canary Islands over the last seven days, two of them died when a boat overturned on Friday, and at least two are pregnant. This is 43 more than the previous week, bringing the total to 94 in just 15 days, and they already represent 12% of the migrants who arrived this year.
29 emergency centresThe Canary Islands Government has opened temporary reception facilities to welcome the growing number of arriving minors, now under guardianship, a figure that has already reached around 2,700 in care. During the biggest migrant wave, back in 2006 known as the Crisis of the Cayucos, the Canary Islands barely had 600 places in operation, and even with other communities sharing the burden, the capacity on the islands is wholly insufficient.
600 people deadThese were the confirmed deaths counted on the Canary Route in 2020, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), although UNHCR state that figure to be more than a thousand, at a minimum estimate, with many more thought to have perished without anyone knowing, due to the lack of data around those who embark on this perilous journey.
Here is a recent report from the IOM:
The Canary News
50 more feared perished at sea as Maritime Rescue search the ocean in response to warnings and a distress call from a sinking rubber boat
The Salvamento Maritime Rescue search plane that has been tracking the 100km-wide strip of ocean between Fuerteventura and Tarfaya (Morocco) this morning has not yet managed to find any sign of a rubber inflatable boat after the distressed occupants put out a call for help after finding themselves in serious trouble. A another alert has also been received following the departure of a second boat, this time from Dakhla.
Tarfaya is 100km due east of The Canary Islands Image: Google Earth
50 migrants were reportedly aboard the inflatable, including ten women and four minors, who requested help by phone through the Caminando Fronteras human rights collective, who have migrant community outreach programs along several western maritime borders between Africa and Europe, who reported that the occupants were saying that the bottom of their boat was tearing and that they were in danger of sinking.
The Spanish Maritime Rescue received information from the Rabat emergency coordination centre that a Moroccan patrol boat has also joined the search.
Meanwhile, a further departure alert has been received: specifically, a boat that would have left this Monday for the Canary Islands, travelling from Dakhla, in the south of Western Sahara, a 450km distance as the crow flies likely to double when at sea. With another 48 migrants on board, including 17 women and six minors, this Maritime Rescue search has too become a matter of urgency.
There is currently no news at the moment of their whereabouts. NGOs this week have warned of the “very worrying trend” toward a higher proportion of migrant women and children attempting the crossing this year, following the death of a young child last week from severe dehydration at sea.
Dakhla is 450km due south of The Canary Islands Image: Google Earth
Spain’s heroic Maritime Rescue service rightly don’t concern themselves with why people might need help, their only focus is to prevent loss of life. Currently SAR resources are searching for nearly 100 people suspected to be at sea trying to cross. NGO’s have warned of a worrying trend towards an increased proportion of women and children attempting the crossing this year. The Salvamento Maritimo have repeatedly debunked ultra-right claims and suspicions of “mother ships” travelling The Canary Route, with every little boat they are aware of having attempted the journey from various points along the West African coast, travelling between 100km and 1000km or more on journeys that take between 3 and 20 days. Most are not properly prepared with insufficient fuel, food or water. Every indication so far this year points to an increase in numbers attempting the journey over last years record breaking 23,023 who arrived, the second highest number of arrivals since records began. It is thought between 500 and 1000 people lost their lives last year in the attempt, but there is just no way of knowing exactly how many.
#EFEFotos | Salvamento Marítimo ha rescatado este sábado a 52 inmigrantes africanos, todos varones, que se dirigían a #GranCanaria en un cayuco localizado 22 kilómetros al sur de la isla.? EFE/Ángel Medina G. pic.twitter.com/4qACs3gte8
— EFE Canarias (@EFE_Canarias) March 20, 2021
The Canary News
Maritime Rescue operations have increased this week, with all indicators pointing to greater numbers attempting the crossing by boat in 2021
Mar, 2021 | #TheCanaryMigrantCrisis, Demonstration, Editor's Thoughts, Film, Government, Immigrants, Immigration, Maspalomas, Migrants Gran Canaria, Mogán, News, Police, politics, Transport, Transport
As the springtime arrives and the weather becomes less hostile, so The Canary Islands, and the 100km+ stretch of ocean separating us from the African coast, are likely once again to become the focus of Maritime Rescue operations in an increasing trend toward irregular migration that is good for no-one, not The Canary Islands, not the currently absent tourists, not the residents, not the governments, not the police, not the EU, and least of all, the migrants themselves. After last year’s huge increase in patera arrivals many had hoped we had already lived through the worst of a situation about which we were being forewarned as early as summer 2019.
Search and Rescue flight path on Wednesday
All the current indicators, however, point to a further increase in migrant arrivals this year, and even after Spain’s and Europe’s failure to properly prepare, and their subsequently inadequate response in 2020, many fear the worst is still yet to come. Gran Canaria’s Sasemar 103 Maritime Rescue (Salvamento Maritimo) aircraft have once more located boats adrift this week, the latest carrying about 40 people on board who were about 81.5 nautical miles (149 kilometres) southwest of Maspalomas (Gran Canaria). It follows the rescues of nearly 100 others, including women and children, in the preceding days, many of whom were in need of critical medical attention.
Salvamar de Salvamento Marítimo
Once found, the maritime rescue sent their Guardamar Concepción Arenal vessel to the area where the boat was located – a journey of about three hours to reach the exact point -, which also meant alerting a passing ship, which was in the area, the ‘Alicia’, to request they approach the migrant boat to help keep track of its movement and the people onboard. The prevailing currents in the area travel away from The Canary Islands, had they not been spotted they almost certainly would have perished in the open ocean as many do, without a trace, and without anyone ever knowing what has happened.
The maritime rescue Sasemar 103 has continued to search the stretch of water between Africa and the Canary Islands, Europes most dangerous migratory route, in the hope of locating any more boats that may be adrift, as this one was found only after several warnings about various vessels that have left the coast of Africa in recent days, although currently maritime rescuers do not know how many might still be found. Another one was rescued on Tuesday night not far from Gran Canaria.
While many oppose migration in open boats to The Canary Islands (practically no-one supports it) particularly following a 750% increase in arrivals during 2020, simply put, it is a fact that we are having to deal with. There is literally no way to stop people risking their lives unless we invest longterm in improving their situations in their countries of origin. Failure to do so is to simply accept that people in poverty will always try to find ways out of poverty. We need to help them do that, or they will try to find any way they can with or without us, and that means more arrivals without any control.
Indeed there are those who oppose any type of maritime rescue efforts to prevent loss of life, but really, is there anything anyone can do in the short to medium term to stop would-be migrants from getting into rickety boats, often overloaded and not fit for purpose, in their attempts to escape the effects of climate change, poverty, hardship, oppression and conflict in Africa? Those adrift that we don’t rescue are simply never heard from again. Their failure is simply no deterrent, just letting people die does not stop others from trying, as the information is never heard by others who, rightly or wrongly, think the potential improvement to their lives worth more than wasting away in the place they were born.
All indicators so far this year point to an even greater increase in maritime migration in 2021, with more than double last year’s numbers, the second highest number of arrivals in history, already having been registered during the first two and a half months of this year compared to the same period last year.
Anti-immigration protesters have focused on the temporary use of empty tourist hotels, as accommodation, in recent months, while internment camps were being constructed to try to deal with the large numbers who had already arrived. Almost all migrants that were briefly accommodated in otherwise empty hotels on the south of Gran Canaria have now been moved into camps to await deportation, or those with asylum claims (less than 10%) transferred to the mainland. A further protest against migrant arrivals has been organised for Saturday the 20th March, where organisers will attempt to create a “human chain”, asking participants to all dress in white, in order to try to send some sort of public message about their dissatisfaction concerning people trying to come here in the first place. The actual message behind the demonstration is not really very clear yet, though the event will apparently be filmed from a helicopter and so we are expecting a video production to subsequently make clear the organisers intentions.
While 23,023 individuals were recorded arriving by boat last year, all mostly stuck on the islands due to COVID restrictions closing down international travel, stopping repatriation or deportations, more than 17,000 of those arrived in the last four months of the year. There were many who feared that large numbers of people unable to continue on their journeys towards mainland Europe would result in mass criminality, however crime actually went down last year, with a total of just 122 crimes involving migrants having been recorded in the 80 days prior to January 20th, 65 of those being falsified documents, and another 45 of those related to “security” issues having resulted from altercations among the migrants themselves. While there have been some isolated cases of young migrants allegedly stealing booze from local businesses, and at least one accusation of serious sexual assault, all of which have resulted in immediate arrests and investigations, in general there has been little by way of trouble, with the exception of an occasional social media hoax, several false reports and a few would-be vigilantes with knives trying to present an atmosphere of mayhem, where there is none.
Irregular migrants, with nothing to do, and not allowed to leave the islands, have certainly been more visible, in the absence of any tourists for the last year. While many have few if any resources, there are those of them who have enough support to survive a few months. They receive no financial aid, and so quickly become dependent on the reception network, where they wait in hope, slowly realising that 90% or more of them will be told to return to their points of origin without ever getting to mainland Europe.
Small numbers of residents in the south have certainly felt less secure, many women report feeling intimidated by groups of young men hanging around the streets. However there have been very few actual incidents. To try to allay public fears, about 40 extra Policia Nacional were drafted in to police the situation more visibly, and 20 or so of our specialist Guardia Civil tactical response unit, GRS8 based on Tenerife, were posted twice to the south of the Gran Canaria to ensure a very visible presence on the streets, however they have primarily been relegated to traffic controls and stop and search duties. One GRS8 officer consulted (not an official spokesperson) directly told The Canary News “Right now we are mainly here to help Canarian citizens and foreign residents to feel safer. Though we have been called to isolated incidents, our skill sets have not been required, so we observe and make sure that we are visible to the population, carrying out patrols and traffic stops. There is not a serious security issue right now on Gran Canaria, it is more public relations to keep everyone calm.”
By far the biggest concern so far has been the handling of unaccompanied minors, more than 2,600 of whom are currently under the care of the regional government’s child protection services, with very little support having yet materialised from mainland Spain, with the exception of some extra finances, and wholly inadequate facilities being used to accommodate the youths among residents living in empty tourist resort towns.
Like it or lump it, we face an even larger influx of migrant arrivals this year, and therefore maritime rescue operations. Everyone, including Spain’s own recent Ombudsman’s report, agrees that the response has been wholly inadequate, and we as a society need to improve how we deal with the reality of something that cannot be easily stopped in the short term. We face the potential of a quickly growing crisis, primarily humanitarian, here on Europe’s southernmost maritime border, if Spain’s central government and the EU do not act quickly to ensure that this archipelago does not become a prison, for both irregular migrants, and residents alike over the coming months.
With growing unemployment and an economy in free fall we can expect more tension from the resident population who see increasing migration as an existential threat on top of so many other calamities over which they have little or no control. This will take a lot of energy and many years to effectively overcome, but right now we need to calmly deal with the realities of the situation. We either work together to get through it, or more angry voices, offering no real solutions, continue to polarise our communities.
Edward Timon.:. Editor
The Canary News
Europe hopes to restart tourism and travel with the new Digital Green Certificate to facilitate safe EU freedom of movement
On Wednesday the European Commission laid out their proposals for the new Digital Green Certificate to facilitate safe freedom of movement inside the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Digital Green Certificate will be used to prove whether or not a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, if they have received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19. It will be available, free of charge, in both digital or paper formats. It will include a QR code to ensure security and authenticity of the certificate. The Commission plans to build an EU-wide digital gateway to ensure all certificates can be verified, and support Member States in the technical implementation of certificates. Member States will remain responsible for deciding which public health restrictions can be waived for travellers but will have to apply any such waivers in the same way to travellers holding a Digital Green Certificate. The proposals were first announced at the end of February, however The Canary Islands were the first to trial a so-called Health Passport, last summer, with UNWTO, and have been calling for similar measures since the start of the pandemic more than a year ago.
Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová said:
“The Digital Green Certificate offers an EU-wide solution to ensure that EU citizens benefit from a harmonised digital tool to support free movement in the EU. This is a good message in support of recovery. Our key objectives are to offer an easy to use, non-discriminatory and secure tool that fully respects data protection. And we continue working towards international convergence with other partners.”
Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, said:
“With the Digital Green Certificate, we are taking a European approach to ensure EU citizens and their family members can travel safely and with minimum restrictions this summer. The Digital Green Certificate will not be a pre-condition to free movement and it will not discriminate in any way. A common EU-approach will not only help us to gradually restore free movement within the EU and avoid fragmentation. It is also a chance to influence global standards and lead by example based on our European values like data protection.”
EU Digital Green Certificate
On Wednesday March 17 the European Commission outlined plans for the new EU Digital Green Certificate, it is hoped it will be in place before June.
It remains to be seen what similar proposals the UK may wish to put forward to help restart international travel and tourism.
Posted by TheCanary.TV on Thursday, March 18, 2021
It is hoped that this free, bilingual, interoperable and digital certificate will help boost a restart to tourism for the summer allowing travellers to move between countries avoiding some of the restrictions currently in place. The European Parliament and each of the EU countries must first approve the proposal, among which there are some including France or Belgium who have expressed their reluctance to move too quickly as the vaccination rate is lower than expected and there are concerns about discrimination. For now, the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, yesterday, expressed Spain’s support for the certificate proposals.
“It will benefit us and we can aspire to a summer with some tourist activity”
Yaiza Castilla – Canary Islands Regional Minister for Tourism
The Canary Islands have expressed some doubts as to whether the benefits will be greater than the costs. Health experts have suggested that it could be a “hasty” measure as not enough vaccine doses have yet been provided and because many aspects of the protection afforded by the various vaccines are still unknown. Several have also raised concerns that this initiative may generate a series of ethical problems as it could cause greater discrimination regarding who can and who cannot travel.
“The vaccine prevents the development of the disease, but not the infection”
Amós García Rojas – Epidemiologist
The electronic certificate will carry health data about the holder with a QR code with which to verify its authenticity, validity and the integrity of the certificate. It will be available in the official language of each country that issues it, and in English. It is not currently planned for use by British citizens travelling to or from the UK.
“We want to help the Member States to restore freedom of movement in a reliable way,” said EC President, Ursula Von der Leyen, on Wednesday during the presentation of the initiative. To which the Commissioner of Justice, Didier Reynder added that Brussels hopes that the document is ready “before the summer, perhaps in June”.
“The homogenisation of clear measures is what has been lacking from the first phase”
Juan Pablo González – Ashotel
Canary Islands Regional Minister for Tourism, Yaiza Castilla, said it is a “very positive, complementary measure” that once implemented “will help regain confidence in mobility and vacation travel.” The Minister welcomed the “show of unity” behind this joint decision of the European Union. Because the lack of common criteria within member states has been one of the biggest stumbling blocks to the European tourism sector so far.
“The homogenisation of clear measures is what has been lacking since the first phase,” commented Juan Pablo González of Ashotel, who expressed positivity that, for the first time since the pandemic began, a single criterion has been established for European travellers.
José María Mañaricúa, president of the Las Palmas Hospitality and Tourism Federation (FEHT), said the covid passport is a good initiative “as long as it is taken as a joint decision”.
“It will be useful when most of the population is vaccinated”
Rodrigo Martín – President of the COMTF
While Spain has expressed willingness to support this European initiative, Minister of Tourism, Reyes Maroto, stated a few days ago that Spain could start using the certificate in May –just in time for the rescheduled International Tourism Fair FITUR. However France and Belgium have expressed reluctance due to what they see as the possibility of discrimination against people who have not been vaccinated, taking into account that the vaccination rate is currently lower than had been hoped for.
Roberto Ucelay, president of the Circle of Entrepreneurs and Professionals of the South of Tenerife (CEST) points out the maxim of this initiative is “to guarantee better control of travellers”, and estimates that this is one of the the most useful features of the new certificate, but is very critical of the border management currently carried out by the Canary Islands government, saying that “there are people who are not even checked if they are travelling with the test done, despite it being mandatory.” In his opinion the digitisation of these types of data is an important part of the European initiative.
The Canary Islands government has called for prudence. “This passport is not a pass that totally frees us from risks, it is only a tool with which, it is intended, to indicate that the risks of contagion have been minimised,” says Yaiza Castilla, “we must live with other protection measures at least until the the pandemic can be overcome and not lower our guard”. There are doubts about factors such as “the temporal scope of the immunity of vaccines or their behaviour against new strains.” At the moment, the certificate does not have a specific validity period, it will depend on subsequent scientific evidence.
Despite the doubts and reluctance expressed about this new initiative, what is clear from the Canary Islands is that “without a doubt it will benefit us”, Castilla points out, expressing hope that the Archipelago can enjoy a summer “with some tourist activity” that lays the foundations for a more solid recovery in 2022 starting from the high season, beginning in November 2021.
Spanish doctors have asked for support to be withdrawn for the Digital Green Certificate
The Spanish Society of Public Health and Health Administration (SESPAS) yesterday asked the Spanish government not to support the implementation of the vaccination certificate because there is no scientific evidence on the transmissibility of people who have been vaccinated, it would be discriminatory because there is not yet universal access to vaccines and it violates health data privacy.
SESPAS pointed out that “the usefulness of the vaccine in reducing transmission is not yet entirely clear and, in any case, it could be limited” saying “it cannot be ruled out that a vaccinated person can transmit the virus”.
“This may pose a significant risk to the appearance of new variants”, which could be more transmissible. The effectiveness of vaccines has already been shown in some trials to be lower against emerging variants. “The use of the certificate with the belief that the vaccinated person will not get sick and will not transmit the virus could be a public health problem of the first order. The certificate may have a great impact due to the transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 and this could contribute to generating new pandemic waves ”, the society warned in a statement. They also pointed out that “the duration of the immunity conferred by vaccination is still unknown, so a certificate of this type may only be temporary.” | Efe
“The digital green certificate will not be a precondition for free movement and in no case will it be discriminatory,” said Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, to emphasise that the Community Executive has listened to the reservations of countries such as France and Belgium, who warn that they will not accept a “covid passport”
If the certificate goes ahead, which still has to be negotiated with the Council and the European Parliament, the Commission also asks that it be a “temporary” measure that is suspended at the time the World Health Organisation declares the end of the international health emergency.
This initiative is open to countries within the European Economic Area – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – on the condition of reciprocity and the Commission is working with third countries to also seek convergence with international systems.
Key elements of the regulation proposed by the Commission:
Accessible and secure certificates for all EU citizens:
The Digital Green Certificate will cover three types of certificates –vaccination certificates, test certificates (NAAT/RT-PCR test or a rapid antigen test), and certificates for persons who have recovered from COVID-19.
The certificates will be issued in a digital form or on paper. Both will have a QR code that contains necessary key information as well as a digital signature to make sure the certificate is authentic.
The Commission will build a gateway and support Member States to develop software that authorities can use to verify all certificate signatures across the EU. No personal data of the certificate holders passes through the gateway, or is retained by the verifying Member State.
The certificates will be available free of charge and in the official language or languages of the issuing Member State and English.
All people – vaccinated and non-vaccinated – should benefit from a Digital Green Certificate when travelling in the EU. To prevent discrimination against individuals who are not vaccinated, the Commission proposes to create not only an interoperable vaccination certificate, but also COVID-19 test certificates and certificates for persons who have recovered from COVID-19.
Same right for travellers with the Digital Green Certificate –where Member States accept proof of vaccination to waive certain public health restrictions such as testing or quarantine, they would be required to accept, under the same conditions, vaccination certificates issued under the Digital Green Certificate system. This obligation would be limited to vaccines that have received EU-wide marketing authorisation, but Member States can decide to accept other vaccines in addition.
Notification of other measures – if a Member State continues to require holders of a Digital Green Certificate to quarantine or test, it must notify the Commission and all other Member States and explain the reasons for such measures.
Only essential information and secure personal data:
The certificates will include a limited set of information such as name, date of birth, date of issuance, relevant information about vaccine/test/recovery and a unique identifier of the certificate. This data can be checked only to confirm and verify the authenticity and validity of certificates.
The Digital Green Certificate will be valid in all EU Member States and open for Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway as well as Switzerland. The Digital Green Certificate should be issued to EU citizens and their family members, regardless of their nationality. It should also be issued to non-EU nationals who reside in the EU and to visitors who have the right to travel to other Member States.
The Digital Green Certificate system is a temporary measure. It will be suspended once the World Health Organisation (WHO) declares the end of the COVID-19 international health emergency.
To be ready before the summer, this proposal needs a swift adoption by the European Parliament and the Council.
In parallel, Member States must implement the trust framework and technical standards, agreed in the eHealth network, to ensure timely implementation of the Digital Green Certificate, their interoperability and full compliance with personal data protection. The aim is to have the technical work and the proposal completed in the coming months.
To comply with the measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus, travellers in the EU have been asked to provide various documents, such as medical certificates, test results, or declarations. The absence of standardised formats has resulted in travellers experiencing problems when moving within the EU. There have also been reports of fraudulent or forged documents.
In their statement adopted following the informal video conferences on 25 and 26 February 2021, the members of the European Council called for work to continue on a common approach to vaccination certificates. The Commission has been working with the Member States in the eHealth Network, a voluntary network connecting national authorities responsible for eHealth, on preparing the interoperability of vaccination certificates. Guidelines were adopted on 27 January and updated on 12 March, and the trust framework outline was agreed on 12 March 2021.
On Wednesday the Commission adopted a legislative proposal establishing a common framework for a Digital Green Certificate. The Commission also adopted a complementary proposal to ensure that the Digital Green Certificate is also issued to non-EU nationals who reside in Member States or Schengen Associated States and to visitors who have the right to travel to other Member States. Separate proposals to cover citizens and non-EU citizens are necessary for legal reasons; there is no difference in treatment of citizens and eligible non-EU citizens for the purpose of the certificates.
The latest information on coronavirus measures as well as travel restrictions provided to us by Member States are available on the Re-open EU platform.
The Canary News
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