Minister admits Madrid knew of migrant crisis
22 March 2006, MADRID — Spain's government admitted it knew about the risks of large-scale migration between Mauritania and the Canary Islands a year ago.
22 March 2006
MADRID — Spain's government admitted it knew about the risks of large-scale migration between Mauritania and the Canary Islands a year ago.
Antonio Camacho, the secretary of state for security, said in March last year Spain was aware large numbers of migrants were making the highly dangerous trip by sea to the Spanish islands.
Camacho said it presented a report to the European Union on the subject.
His remarks came after it emerged a Civil Guard report warned in December that up to 1,700 people had died in the seas off the Canary Islands.
Spain started deporting 170 migrants to Mauritania last weekend after the arrival of more than 2,500 migrants since January left agencies and local government officials on the islands unable to cope.
More than 1,200 migrants have died trying to make the trip in recent weeks.
Spain held emergency talks with the African state last week to resolve the crisis.
Officials said last week the number of illegal immigrants who have sailed in small boats to the Canary Islands so far this year was triple the number that arrived during the same period in 2005.
The sea separating Africa from the Canary Islands has long been the scene of attempted crossings - some successful and others not - of people from African countries hoping to reach the coast of Spain in an effort to stay in that country or continue on to another European destination.
To make the trip, illegal immigrants crowd into small boats that take to the sea - almost always at night - and not infrequently sink due to the excess weight on board.
Despite the risks of crossing from Africa to Europe by sea, plus heightened vigilance by the authorities, immigrants take advantage of favourable weather conditions and the use of bigger and better vessels.
More immigrants are trying to enter Spain by sea now that the route through Ceuta and Melilla has become more difficult due to tighter security, the result of last year's massive attempts by sub-Saharan Africans to enter Spain's North African enclaves.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news