MORE than 1,000 migrants have arrived in hundreds of small boats on the coats of Spain’s Canary Islands in just 48 hours.
It is thought that a combination of closed borders and tightened security on the Mediterranean coast have pushed people traffickers and their ‘customers’ to risk the perilous 60 mile (97 kilometre) Atlantic crossing.
The Red Cross reported that between Thursday and Saturday 1,015 people aboard 485 small boats made it to the Spanish islands, which are situated West of Morocco’s Atlantic coast.
Most of the small fishing boats were met by hard-pressed rescue services who then transferred the migrants to shore.
In Spain as a whole, landings of migrants fell 5.8% between January and September, but arrivals in the Canary islands have surged by 523.7% to 6,081 people in the same period, according to the Spanish government.
These are the highest numbers since 2006 when 30,000 migrants made it to the Canaries.
Red cross sources said that the latest influx was of mainly North African people, with some from sub-Saharan countries also landing. Most were in good health, although some suffered hypothermia. All migrants landing on Spanish shores are tested for coronavirus as part of their processing.
The journey to the Canaries is considered highly dangerous, with the International Organisation for Migration saying 251 people are known to have died on the route between January 1 and September 17 this year.