Spain repatriates 750 illegal migrants in week

21st May 2007, Comments 0 comments

21 May 2007 , MADRID - Spain's government has repatriated more than 750 African migrants, including 30 children, who were caught last week trying to enter the Canary Islands, the Interior Ministry said Sunday.

21 May 2007

MADRID - Spain's government has repatriated more than 750 African migrants, including 30 children, who were caught last week trying to enter the Canary Islands, the Interior Ministry said Sunday.

Almost 600 of the nearly 800 migrants were Senegal, the ministry said.

Officials blamed the latest influx on the fact that the European Union's external borders agency, Frontex, had suspended maritime patrols in the area between the Spanish islands and the western coast of Africa.

The government reiterated warnings that all illegal migrants detained on Spanish territory would be expelled.

"We have repatriated, with the invaluable help of the government of Senegal, nearly 600 citizens of that country," Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said Sunday in the northwestern city of Vigo. "This is an unmistakable message to the mafias" who run human-smuggling operations, he said.

The ministry gave no information about where in Africa the other migrants had come from.

Last year more than 30,000 immigrants were caught trying to reach the seven-island archipelago located off the northwest coast of Africa. The vast majority sailed from west Africa in crowded open boats, many perishing en route.

Spanish law gives authorities 40 days to identify and repatriate illegal migrants, after which time they must be freed.

Fontex suspended the maritime patrols in early April, when its 2006 mission ended. A new mission is expected to begin within weeks, after the agency receives equipment including planes, helicopters and boats.

[Copyright AP with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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