The sun falls harshly on a small square in the surroundings of the Canarias 50 reception camp, in the neighborhood of La Isleta, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Sitting on the back of a bench, a small group of Senegalese spend the hours in the shade of some flamboyant trees. “We arrived several weeks ago to another island,” explains one of them, who prefers not to give his name. “We waited… There was nothing to do at home, anyway.”
This group constitutes a small example of the arrival on the islands of people aboard canoes and other vessels, a phenomenon that has put their political leaders on alert in these first weeks of the legislature and has come to provoke the first frictions between the central governments. and autonomous. In August, almost three times more arrived on the islands than in the same month last year. “We need a reinforcement that guarantees the first reception that is provided on the islands,” said this Thursday in this regard the Minister of Social Welfare, Equality, Youth, Children and Families of the Executive, Candelaria Delgado.
The arrival of migrants by boat to the islands fell 11.3% to 8,508 people in the first seven months of the year, according to data from the Ministry of the Interior. The last few months, however, have shown a certain change in trend, caused both by favorable weather conditions and, above all, by the political and social crisis that Senegal and a large part of the Sahel are experiencing. After two years of instability, the country’s political crisis exploded on June 1 with the two-year prison sentence of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, who is very popular with young people.
The result, the reactivation of the kayak outings, which have also reactivated the statistics. In August, 2,931 people arrived on the islands, which has brought the cumulative arrivals to 11,439 people, 802 more than a year before (7.5% more). Last Monday, the Canary Islands received the highest number of immigrant arrivals in a single day so far this year, 634 people in six boats that arrived in Tenerife, Gran Canaria and El Hierro, of which 126 are minors, according to a count of Efe. If the forecasts of the emergency and Maritime Rescue teams are met, the transfer will intensify in the coming weeks, when navigation conditions usually improve. This weekend, 1,136 migrants have arrived on the islands aboard 16 irregular vessels.
From left to right: the acting Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, José Luis Escrivá; the Secretary of State for Migration, Isabel Castro Fernández; the president of the Canary Islands, Fernando Clavijo, and the Minister of Social Welfare, Equality, Youth, Children and Families, Candelaria Delgado, on Tuesday in Madrid.Javier Lizon (EFE)
The situation is especially worrying when it comes to unaccompanied minors. Candelaria Delgado explained that there are currently 2,400 children in care in the Canary Islands, approximately 32% more than a year ago. “The islands cannot cope with the situation with only the six million allocated”, the counselor has ruled in reference to the money that the central Executive approved in the Council of Ministers in September 2022 for the care of unaccompanied foreign minors.
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For this reason, it aspires to close both a new agreement with Migrations and to get the Ministry of Equality to distribute between Ceuta, Melilla and the Canary Islands the nearly 35 million expected to finance the failed distribution of between 800 and 900 minors with other communities. “And if there is no solidarity distribution,” he added, “you still have to carry out some type of state legislation that establishes it.”
complaints from councils
The arrivals registered in this last part of the year have also led the seven councils of the Canary Islands to convene an extraordinary assembly on Wednesday which was attended, among others, by the president of the Canary Islands, Fernando Clavijo and the counselor Delgado. At its end, the island corporations demanded from the central administration “urgent measures in the face of the migration crisis.” The president of the Cabildo de La Gomera and president of the Canary Islands Federation (Fecai), Casimiro Curbelo, also called for the “solidarity” of the rest of the autonomous communities in the reception of unaccompanied minors due to the “lack of planning from the State.”
One day before participating in the Fecai assembly, Clavijo and Delgado traveled to Madrid with a highlight on the agenda: holding a meeting with the Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, José Luis Escrivá. The meeting ended positively for the nationalist leader. “It seems that finally someone in the Government is aware of the dimension of the problem and shares with us the need for planning to address what is foreseeably going to happen, Clavijo assured the media at the end. The president announced that the minister had explained to him that a reception resource with 300 places is going to be set up on the island of El Hierro, install modules in Gran Canaria, in the Las Canteras barracks in Tenerife and in El Matorral in Fuerteventura. Sources from the Ministry of Migration detailed this Thursday to EL PAÍS that the occupation of resources on the islands is around 60%, compared to approximately 50% at the beginning of August.
The situation has led the State Attorney General’s Office to demand this Thursday that these resources have a permanent nature. In the opinion of the ministry, the proximity to the African coasts causes “constant” migratory pressure on the Canary Islands, which has worsened in the last three years, according to the State Attorney General’s Office, which warns that the response to these flows should not be improvised, for which calls for permanent facilities to welcome migrants with dignity.
In its Report on 2022, the public ministry considers that there should be “permanent facilities” to guarantee immediate reception “in conditions of dignity” and not places prepared according to existing needs at all times “and, therefore, subject to to improvisation.” The objective, he asserted, is to avoid “undesirable” situations such as the one at the Arguineguín pier in 2020, where more than 2,500 migrants came to overcrowd.
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