Spain starts sending back migrants to Canaries

20th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

20 March 20006, SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE — Spanish deputy prime minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega announced 170 immigrants who reached Spanish soil illegally will be repatriated to Mauritania "immediately", once a bilateral repatriation agreement signed in 2003 is reactivated.Fernandez de la Vega made the announcement after meeting with the regional governor of the Canary Islands, Adan Martin, to study problems arising from the massive arrivals of immigrants in small boats to the islands' coasts.In

20 March 20006

SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE — Spanish deputy prime minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega announced 170 immigrants who reached Spanish soil illegally will be repatriated to Mauritania "immediately", once a bilateral repatriation agreement signed in 2003 is reactivated.

Fernandez de la Vega made the announcement after meeting with the regional governor of the Canary Islands, Adan Martin, to study problems arising from the massive arrivals of immigrants in small boats to the islands' coasts.

In recent months an unprecedented wave of illegal immigration has brought more than 2,500 Africans to the Canaries and, according to the Red Crescent of Mauritania, has left more than 1,200 dead at sea.

During the same period in 2005, only 857 made the same journey to the islands.

De La Vega said: "We have to make it very clear that all who enter illegally have to leave, naturally with every guarantee of respect for their rights."

She added that these 170 repatriations will be citizens of Mauritania, Senegal and Mali, countries with which the Mauritanian government has repatriation agreements.

Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega gave no dates for the repatriations, since she said they must be carried out with "all due respect for human rights, which means we need to identify each one."

The repatriation of the 170 will be "the beginning of a process that is going to be carried out continuously from now on," she said.

Fernandez de la Vega said that the government, "aware of the intensified" arrival of immigrants to the islands, has urgently reactivated a plan of cooperation with Mauritania and of aid and collaboration with the Canary Islands.

On Saturday a patrol boat of the Civil Guard intercepted a small boat carrying 17 migrants as it approached the island of Gran Canaria, while south of Tenerife a small craft was detained carrying another 33 immigrants including three minors.

On 14 March, 400 people landed at the Canary Islands and the Andalusian province of Almeria after sailing the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea from the coasts of Africa.

Officials said on Monday that 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 favorable 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



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