Spain appeals to EU for help to stem immigrants
19 May 2006, MADRID — Spain appealed to the European Union for logistical help in combating the tide of immigrants to the Canary Islands.
19 May 2006
MADRID — Spain appealed to the European Union for logistical help in combating the tide of immigrants to the Canary Islands.
Deputy Prime Minister María Teresa Fernández de la Vega said Madrid had asked the European Borders Control Agency to send specialists to help tighten security around the Canary Islands.
Authorities in the Canary Islands have been desperately trying to cope with the arrival of 6,900 immigrants this year alone – compared with 4,751 who arrived in 2005. This is a 20 per cent rise compared with all of last year.
On Thursday alone, 674 arrived in 24 hours in nine kayaks from Western Africa.
Already, immigrants are being held in garages and prison cells as holding centres are full to bursting.
Many police officers have spent more than a week with little sleep as they try to coped with the sheer scale of arrivals.
Earlier this week, the Spanish Government was forced to announce emergency measures after more than 1,500 illegal immigrants arrived in the Canary Islands last weekend in a fleet of kayaks from Mauritania and Senegal.
Naval patrol boats, spotter planes and satellites will be used to track the boats before they arrive.
Amid mounting political pressure to stem the tide of illegal immigration, the Spanish Government will tomorrow send 10 diplomats to Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Guinea Conakry and Niger and Senegal, where many start their long journeys towards Spain and the rest of Europe.
The diplomats are to work with local authorities to try to stem the flow of illegal immigration.
Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero wrote to the heads of Government in Senegal, Guinea-Bissau and Mali, to ask for help to stop more immigrants arriving on Spanish beaches.
But Carlos González Segura, head of the Canary Islands regional government, claimed the situation was already out of control.
Señor González said: "This is madness. With this spate of arrivals, we will have no space left within three days."
Last year the Spanish and Moroccan Governments tightened security on the borders with Spain's North African enclaves Ceuta and Melilla after repeated mass waves of immigrants stormed the electrified fences.
This made the Canary Islands the new target for desperate would-be immigrants who are prepared to make the 700 mile journey in precarious small boats from Western Africa.
Spain has warned if the Canary Islands also tightens security, then the immigrants may try to reach Europe through Italy and other Mediterranean countries.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news