A total of 227 migrants were rescued near Spain’s Canary Islands on Thursday, emergency services said, a day after migrant charities said they feared more than 30 migrants had died after their inflatable boat capsized. on the same route.
The Canary Islands off the coast of West Africa have become the main destination for migrants trying to reach Spain, with much smaller numbers also seeking to cross the Mediterranean Sea to the Spanish mainland. Summer is the busiest period for all crossing attempts.
Spanish authorities said on Wednesday that the bodies of a boy and a man had been recovered and that a Moroccan patrol boat had previously rescued 24 people from a sinking boat.
Migration-focused organizations said 59 people had been on the ship and at least 30 were missing, criticizing Spain and Morocco for not intervening sooner.
Canarian authorities said on Thursday that emergency services had assisted 114 migrants in two boats overnight.
A total of 53 people were transferred to Lanzarote, while 61 migrants, including a baby and its mother who were transferred to the hospital, headed for Gran Canaria.
Television footage showed some of the migrants covered in red blankets arriving at the port of Arguineguin on the island of Gran Canaria and rescuers helping a small boy and other new arrivals disembark.
On Thursday morning a third vessel was sighted by the Coast Guard and transferred to Lanzarote with 54 people on board. They were in good health, the emergency services added.
Later that day, a rescue boat with 59 migrants on board arrived in Arguineguín. Television images showed three children among the passengers.
Rescue off Italy
Meanwhile, in Italian Mediterranean waters, the Spanish rescue ship Aita Mari, belonging to the NGO Salvamento Marítimo Humanitario (SMH), said it was involved in rescuing 294 people from a migrant boat off the Italian island of Lampedusa on Thursday.
SMH said a joint operation was carried out with the Nadir rescue ship belonging to the NGO ResQship and the Italian coast guard to recover everyone on board.
The Atlantic flyway, one of the deadliest in the world, is often used by migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. At least 559 people, including 22 children, died last year trying to reach the Canary Islands, according to data from the UN’s International Organization for Migration.
There has been an increase in arrivals to the Canary Islands this month.
“The numbers were falling so far this year, but there was an increase this month that surprised everyone. In June alone, close to 2,000 people have arrived,” said Canarian immigration lawyer Loueila Mint El Mamy.
A source who works at a migrant camp on one of the Canary Islands told Reuters they had received around 1,000 new arrivals in recent days, compared with 100 in the same period last year.
Better weather conditions during the early summer could have brought forward the migration season that previously took place later in the year, a Spanish government source said.
Spanish government data showed that 5,914 people arrived in the Canary Islands between January and mid-June this year, a 31.5 percent drop compared to the same period last year. But more than 40 percent of those people arrived in just one month, between May 15 and June 15.