1,000% jump in people crossing Africa to Canaries in boats

The data released by Spain’s interior ministry reveals a significant surge in the number of people attempting to reach Spain’s Canary Islands from West Africa via sea routes. In January, the figure jumped by over 1,000%, with 7,270 individuals making the perilous journey compared to 566 in the same month the previous year. The Canary Islands, a popular tourist destination off Africa’s north-west coast, have experienced a surge in migration, with a record-breaking 39,910 people arriving in 2023.

El Hierro, the smallest and westernmost island in the archipelago, received more migrants than its own population of 9,000 in 2023. This influx underscores the challenges faced by the Canary Islands as they grapple with an unprecedented number of arrivals.

The Atlantic route to the Canary Islands, as highlighted by a report from the rights group Walking Borders, is deemed the deadliest migration route to Spain. Last year, 6,007 people lost their lives during the perilous sea voyage. The harsh conditions and the treacherous nature of this route contribute to its deadly reputation.

The overall number of individuals entering Spain through irregular means in January, whether by land or sea, reached 8,067, marking a substantial 524% increase compared to the same period the previous year. This surge in migration poses significant humanitarian and logistical challenges for Spain, calling attention to the complexities of managing migration flows and ensuring the safety of those undertaking dangerous journeys.

The surge in migrant arrivals to Spain’s Canary Islands, particularly through the deadly Atlantic route, presents ongoing challenges for both the region and the Spanish government. The dramatic increase in the number of individuals attempting this perilous journey highlights the desperate circumstances faced by many migrants seeking better opportunities or refuge.

The Canary Islands, known for their popularity as a tourist destination, have become a focal point for irregular migration, posing humanitarian and logistical challenges for the region. The sheer volume of arrivals, as evidenced by the record-breaking numbers in 2023 and the significant increase in January, underscores the need for coordinated responses to ensure the safety and well-being of migrants.

El Hierro, the smallest and westernmost island in the archipelago, facing a situation where more migrants arrived than its local population in 2023, exemplifies the strain on resources and the impact on local communities. The challenges extend beyond the humanitarian sphere to encompass social, economic, and infrastructural considerations.

The report from the rights group Walking Borders, labeling the Atlantic route as the deadliest migration route to Spain, emphasizes the urgent need for measures to enhance safety and address the root causes of migration. Understanding and addressing the factors driving individuals to undertake such risky journeys is essential for developing effective, humane, and sustainable solutions.

The broader context of increased irregular migration to Spain, not only by sea but also by land, as indicated by the 524% rise in overall entries in January compared to the previous year, demands comprehensive policies and international cooperation.

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