Nearly 40 migrants feared dead off Spain’s Canary Islands

a helicopter searches for survivors after migrants die near the Canary Islands
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Spanish authorities rescued nearly 170 migrants from three boats drifting off the Canary Islands overnight on 21 June. This was just hours after at least two people died when their packed dinghy sank in the area.

Spain’s coast guard saved 53 migrants “in good condition” near the island of Lanzarote. According to a local emergency services tweet, they saved another 61 – including a mother and her baby – near the island of Gran Canaria. The tweet added that the migrants found near Gran Canaria were all taken to hospital for “mild conditions”.

Spain’s coast guard intercepted another boat early on 22 June. 54 migrants “in good condition” were on board near Lanzarote.

The rescue operations came after a dinghy carrying migrants sank about 160 kilometres (100 miles) southeast of Gran Canaria. The Spanish coast guard found the body of a minor and later a man in the area.

A Moroccan patrol boat rescued 24 people, according to Spain’s coast guard, which said it did not know how many people were missing.

Perilous crossing

However, Spanish non-profit group Walking Borders said that 39 people had died. These included four women and a baby. Walking Borders monitors migrant boats to try to help them, and also receives calls from people on the boats or their relatives

The group’s founder, Helena Maleno, said the migrants had waited for over 12 hours for assistance.

Read on...

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The number of boats heading for the Canaries from northwestern African has increased in recent days due to favourable weather conditions. Over 1,500 migrants arrived in the Canaries during the first two weeks of June, according to interior ministry figures.

The migrant route from West Africa to the Canary Islands across the Atlantic has become more popular in recent years, as authorities have cracked down on illegal migration in the Mediterranean Sea. Just last year, the Spanish prime minister called migrants trying to find safety a attack on Spanish “territorial integrity.” Such a remark demonstrates the callousness with which governments approach people trying to find safety.

Over 11,200 people have died or disappeared since 2018 while trying to reach Spain by sea, according to a report published by Walking Borders at the end of 2022.

Alarm Phone, who provide independent support for people crossing the Mediterranean, expressed their anger:

As Alarm Phone point out, borders – and the maintenance of those borders – kills. People were left for many hours, waiting to die. This kind of thing keeps happening – just days ago, hundreds of people died off the coast of Greece whilst waiting for help. There’s no point any more asking when people will care – it’s obvious that nobody does care because it’s Black and Brown refugees dying in the sea.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Press

Featured image via YouTube screenshot/Al Jazeera English

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  • Show Comments
    1. It’s not really the colour of migrants’ skin that means few Western people, secure in their homes, care about those appalling and criminal deaths. It’s their poverty and desperation, which attract contempt rather than solidarity. We should all be imagining how we would act if we had been born in countries which are the victims of the West’s colonialism, imperialism and global capitalism. Those isms have been to the benefit even of the working class in the West, if to a far lesser extent than to the ruling class who steal our wealth as they steal the wealth of the countries from which most migrants are fleeing. Basic principles of morality dictate that we must do all we can to help.

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