Sharp fall in illegal migrants to Canary Islands

18th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

The number of illegal immigrants arriving in the Canary Islands, considered a gateway to Europe from Africa, fell sharply in 2010 to the lowest level since 1997, the Spanish Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.

Authorities in the Spanish archipelago recorded the arrival of 196 migrants in 2010, compared to 2,246 in 2009 and 31,678 in 1996.

Overall, the numbers embarking on Spanish soil had roughly halved with 3,632 people registered in 2010 against 7,285 the year before.

Spanish officials fear many of the thousands of Africans who attempt the perilous journey by boat to Spanish soil die each year of thirst, hunger or exposure.

The mass arrival of boats carrying migrants, however, has become rarer in recent years due to the economic downturn in Spain and repatriation agreements Madrid signed with the African countries that were a major source of migrants.

The country has also worked with other European nations to boost maritime surveillance.

© 2011 AFP

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