Spain will set up tents and camps to accommodate 7,000 migrants in the Canary Islands

The Spanish government announced this Friday that it will set up emergency temporary tents and camps to accommodate up to 7,000 people in the Canary Islands, within a plan to contain the intense migratory flow in this archipelago near Africa.

The measures also include the reinforcement of maritime rescue teams in the region and are complemented by the diplomatic offensive launched from Madrid in several African countries to prevent the departure of precarious vessels towards these Atlantic islands.

During a visit to the archipelago, whose regional authorities denounce the saturation of the reception system, the Minister of Inclusion, José Luis Escrivá, announced the creation in weeks of “tents and emergency camps that will allow us to cover 7,000 places.”

These devices are a temporary solution while the government adapts other facilities and buildings, most of them donated by the army, to accommodate “more stable” the newcomers to the islands.

These new places should allow the transfer of the 5,500 migrants currently housed in hotels, unusually empty of tourists due to the pandemic, as well as more than a thousand who are still located in the port of Arguineguín, the focus of criticism from NGOs due to its saturation and its precarious terms.

The plan will be financed with 84 million euros (99.7 million dollars) of European funds, the minister said.

The European agreements with Turkey, Libya and Morocco to curb immigration through the Mediterranean shifted the pressure to this archipelago, which has received some 12,000 people since September and more than 18,000 since the beginning of the year, more than ten times than in the same period of 2019 .

This flow overflowed the Spanish government, criticized for having improvised before this crisis. “It is clear that we could have arrived earlier, we could have had more anticipation capacity,” acknowledged Minister Escrivá.

Regional President Ángel Victor Torres, who accompanied the minister at the press conference, demanded the referral of migrants to other Spanish regions to decongest the Canarian reception systems.

“The Canary Islands flatly refuse to be the one to host 100% of the immigration that reaches our land,” Torres said.

– Stop departures at origin –

The government, however, prioritizes negotiating with the countries of origin to stop departures and reactivate the repatriations interrupted by the pandemic.

“Migration policy is a comprehensive policy, they are not shortcuts”, “and the important thing is the external sphere”, that is to say, fight against migrant mafias, cooperate with countries of origin and “protect the vulnerable,” he said this Friday in Rabat the Spanish Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, after meeting with his Moroccan counterpart.

Madrid will proceed to “return” the migrants “who are irregular and are not creditors of international protection,” said Marlaska during his visit to Morocco, where a good part of the immigrants who arrive in the Canary Islands come from.

For her part, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González, who will travel to Senegal on Sunday, met this Friday in Geneva with representatives of the International Organization for Migration and the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Gonzalez asked IOM for their “collaboration” to implement the plan announced this Friday to welcome migrants in the Canary Islands, according to a statement from his ministry.

dbh-du / eg