Defying lockdown, migrants keep on arriving in Spain

About 80 African migrants packed aboard two fishing boats landed on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria on Tuesday, adding to the hundreds of new arrivals now stuck there while the coronavirus lockdown prevents transfers to the mainland, Reuters reported. “They arrived in good health, although a little dehydrated,” Gerardo Santana, head of the Red Cross on Gran Canaria, said.

The first boat docked at the port of Arguineguin with about 50 people aboard, 23 of whom are believed to be children. A second vessel carrying 30 men, a woman and four children, landed on the rocky coast of San Bartolome de Tirajana. Both groups will be tested for coronavirus and will undergo a two-week quarantine, a government spokeswoman said. State news agency EFE reported that three recently-arrived migrants had tested positive for the virus and were being held in isolation.

Illegal migration to the islands, in the Atlantic Ocean west of Morocco, has risen nearly seven-fold so far this year to 2,113 people as of 15 May, despite a 29% drop in overall seaborne arrivals to Spain, according to Interior Ministry data.

Heightened security across the Mediterranean is likely to be driving more migrants to risk the perilous Atlantic crossing, according to Helena Malena, head of the Caminando Fronteras non-governmental organization, which monitors migratory flows. “The migrants are still there...they have to get out somehow, so the mafias open up more dangerous routes,” she said.

Red Cross centres on the islands are overloaded and the humanitarian organisation has resorted to putting up migrants in empty sports halls“As long as they keep coming we’ll have to keep on taking them in, at least until the state of emergency is over,” Raul Baez Quintana, head of the Red Cross’ Canary Islands humanitarian aid programme, told Reuters.

More on this subject: Migration crisis

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