The tranquil sea conditions this September have facilitated a massive influx of migrants to the Canary Islands, particularly El Hierro and Tenerife. Larger boats, originating mainly from Senegal and capable of carrying up to 100 passengers, have been arriving in increasing numbers. The challenges associated with departing from Morocco or Mauritania have rerouted many migrants to riskier sub-Saharan routes, leading to longer sea journeys and an elevated risk of loss of life, as reported by various NGOs.
Over the past 48 hours, the Canary Islands have experienced a significant spike in migrant arrivals. A total of 1,121 people, including more than 200 minors, were rescued near the islands. El Hierro, the smallest of the Canary Islands, reached full reception capacity as approximately 420 migrants arrived at La Restinga dock over the weekend.
Emergency and rescue teams assisted arrivals on 16 different boats that landed in Lanzarote, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, and El Hierro. On Saturday alone, 469 migrants arrived in seven boats. Salvamento Marítimo, the Red Cross, and the Lanzarote Emergency Consortium confirmed that among them were 13 women and around 20 minors.
The record for daily arrivals in 2023 was broken yet again on Sunday, with 652 people safely reaching the islands in nine different boats. This surpassed the previous high from last Monday, when 634 individuals arrived.
Amid these developments, Fernando Clavijo, President of the Regional Executive, emphasised the need for additional resources to manage the escalating migrant crisis along the Atlantic route. On Canary Islands Migration Day, President Clavijo stated that the archipelago is a “land of solidarity and welcome” and expressed his sorrow that thousands continue to perish at sea.
Vice-President Manuel Domínguez supported this sentiment, stating that the Canary Islands “need more resources from the State to tackle this situation,” as the numbers of arrivals continue to climb.
To alleviate the strain on El Hierro’s reception facilities, the Government Delegation has requested that the shipping company Naviera Armas deploy one of its ships, the Volcán de Taburiente, to transfer about 500 migrants to Tenerife. The company has confirmed that the ship will make an extra journey today to assist with the humanitarian effort.