First Asian illegal immigrants reach Canary Islands

15th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

15 September 2006, SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE — A boat carrying 216 Asian immigrants, apparently Pakistanis, arrived in Tenerife, authorities told EFE on Friday.

15 September 2006

SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE — A boat carrying 216 Asian immigrants, apparently Pakistanis, arrived in Tenerife, authorities told EFE on Friday.

The boat was spotted by Spanish vessels and boarded by a patrol of the Civil Guard - the rural and border police - four nautical miles from Tenerife.

Of the migrants on board, 198 will be taken to the island's capital, Santa Cruz, while the other 16 were attended to in the port of Los Cristianos and two others were taken to a hospital to be treated for dehydration, officials said.

The 40-meter (130-foot) boat - which bore the name "Al-mari" – is expected to arrive in Tenerife on Friday.

The immigrants all appear to be Pakistani, according to the authorities.

On Thursday afternoon, the officers and crew of the Civil Guard patrol boat Rio Gallo inspected the migrants' boat and asked the passengers to identify the captain, but they received no answer to that query.

This summer, the Canary Islands have been deluged with a huge inflow of migrants coming - mainly - from Senegal, Mali and Mauritania.

The Spanish government has requested the urgent help of the European Union and to harden its immigration policy.

More than 20,000 immigrants have arrived in the archipelago so far this year on rickety boats, or giant canoes known as "cayucos."

Spanish interior minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said  immigration authorities have expelled 59,000 undocumented migrants from the country so far this year, adding that the pace of the expulsions is accelerating.

In a speech before the Senate, Rubalcaba acknowledged the difficulties his ministry is encountering in repatriating the migrants to specific African nations.

But he emphasized that for the first time concrete accords on the matter with countries like Senegal and Mali had been achieved.

The massive migrant flow over the past three months has stirred up the debate about immigration in Spain, despite the fact that sub-Saharans represent only about 4 percent of the Iberian nation's illegal immigrants.

Many more illegal immigrants arrive in Spanish territory via airports, using short-term tourist visas to enter the country but then remaining there after the visas expire, or overland, taking advantage of the freedom of movement existing among many of the 25 member-states of the European Union.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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