canary islands

Canary Islands propose to the EU to become a training hub for West African Countries

Both Canary Islands President Fernando Clavijo and Josep Borrell concur that migratory pressures are expected to rise and emphasize that collaboration is essential to "mitigate this drama."

Yesterday, Fernando Clavijo, the President of the Canary Islands, proposed to Josep Borrell, the High Representative and Vice-President of the European Commission for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the establishment of an EU logistics center in the archipelago. This center would focus on training youth from Senegal and Mauritania. During a meeting in Brussels, Clavijo and Borrell acknowledged the ongoing migratory pressures on the islands and agreed on the need for greater collaboration with the countries of origin to mitigate this humanitarian crisis.

Reflecting on how the Red Cross and the World Food Programme have utilized the Canary Islands as a logistical base for their African operations, Clavijo believes that the islands are well-positioned to serve as a European hub for cooperation with the countries that most migrants depart from. With this in mind, the Canary Islands government is developing a professional training plan targeted at African youth.

Clavijo also expressed his concerns about the growing instability in the Sahel—a key geopolitical area that influences the Atlantic migration route. Borrell confirmed that the situation in this African “belt” will remain challenging, especially following the scheduled withdrawal of the European military mission on May 18.

Canary Islands propose to the EU to become a training hub for West African Countries

Moreover, Borrell noted that the increasing presence of armed criminal gangs linked to the Islamic State, along with the recruitment of mercenaries associated with Russian leader Vladimir Putin and the Wagner Group, is complicating the security landscape in the Sahel.

To address these issues, the European Commission has committed to maintaining and even enhancing its cooperation policies with Morocco, Senegal, and Mauritania. According to Borrell, this strategy should help reduce the number of small boats and cayucos leaving these countries for the archipelago and thus decrease the deaths on one of the world’s most perilous migratory routes.

Clavijo highlighted the record-breaking number of migrant arrivals to the Canary Islands last year due to instability in Senegal, Mauritania, and the broader Sahel region. In 2023, 39,910 migrants reached the archipelago, an increase of 154% from the previous year, accounting for 70% of the 56,852 migrants who arrived in Spain by sea.

Canary Islands propose to the EU to become a training hub for West African Countries

Additionally, Clavijo discussed his concerns about a European migration pact he views as “clearly insufficient” for the upcoming years. He stressed that the solution to Africa’s migration challenges lies within Africa itself, underscoring the need for a robust development policy to address the root causes of migration, such as wars, instability, and drought.

Clavijo’s visit to Brussels was not only significant for addressing migration issues but also for discussing challenges faced by the Canary Islands’ agricultural sector, including competition from Morocco. This highlights the direct impact of EU policies on the Canary Islands, intensified by the anticipated EU withdrawal from the Sahel and the inauguration of the new Commission.

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