Spanish patrols off Africa try to stem migration

21st August 2006, Comments 0 comments

22 August 2006, MADRID — Two Spanish patrol boats and a helicopter are to be deployed off Senegal to try to stem the tide of illegal immigrants to the Canary Islands, it was reported on Tuesday.

22 August 2006

MADRID — Two Spanish patrol boats and a helicopter are to be deployed off Senegal to try to stem the tide of illegal immigrants to the Canary Islands, it was reported on Tuesday.

The move came after the Spanish interior minister Alfredo Ruiz Rubalcaba met his opposite number in the Senegalese capital of Dakar on Monday.

Senegal is one of the principle countries, along with Mauritania, from which immigrants sail in unstable kayaks to the Canary Islands.

The patrol boats and helicopter will be deployed in the next few days, authorities said.

The diplomatic meeting was organised after more than 1,000 illegal immigrants arrived on the islands over the weekend.

Spanish officials did not rule out the possibility that more vessels could arrive in coming hours in the island chain off Africa.

Canary Islands regional government chief Adan Martin warned that the wave of illegal immigrants from Africa would continue over the next few months.

Over 18,000 African migrants have arrived in the Canary Islands so far this year, Martin said.

Martin called on Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who visited two processing centres for illegal immigrants on Saturday in Gran Canaria holding about 1,000 people, to take action.

Zapatero met with local officials and promised to take measures to address the flow of migrants.

Zapatero said his government would also bolster development aid to the source countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

The prime minister said he was "not going to hide" from the problem of illegal immigration, which was a "serious and long-range" challenge.

Deputy prime minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega will travel to Helsinki soon to ask Finland, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, for a greater European commitment to helping stop the flow of illegal immigrants.

The Canary Islands have become the favourite destination for African emigrants seeking to make it to Europe to look for work.

Illegal immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa are increasingly opting for a sea route to the Canary Islands since Madrid tightened security last year around two Spanish enclaves in North Africa that were being used as a bridge into Europe.

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.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

0 Comments To This Article