More than 5,000 people have made it to the Canary Islands so far this year


  • Canarian Weekly
  • 28-01-2024
  • National
  • Photo Credit: Canarias Ahora
More than 5,000 people have made it to the Canary Islands so far this year

In a distressing incident on January 7th, Maritime Rescue retrieved a young North African man with hypothermia clinging to a truck tyre trying to paddle to the Canary Islands. He told of a harrowing journey from Tarfaya with a friend, who unfortunately died the night before the rescue.

The perilous migratory route to the Canary Islands, which claimed the highest number of lives globally in 2023, remains treacherous, claiming at least seven lives in the first 25 days of 2024.

According to the latest data from the Ministry of the Interior, between January 1st and 15th, 3,480 migrants arrived in the Archipelago. Since then, there have been additional rescues, bringing the total number of survivors to over 5,000 this year.

In contrast, the first two weeks of 2023 saw lower numbers, with just 371 people rescued in ten boats. Gran Canaria, El Hierro, Tenerife, Fuerteventura, and Lanzarote continue to be the focal points for migrant landings.

The highest number of migrants crossed to the Canary Islands in 2023

The figures echo the grim statistics of 2023, where 39,910 people undertook the perilous to the Canary Islands, surpassing the infamous "Cayuco crisis" of 2006. Meanwhile, the Atlantic has become a tragic graveyard, recording at least seven deaths in the first three weeks of the year, including the companion of the rescued man in Fuerteventura on a truck tyre.

On January 21st, Maritime Rescue escorted a boat with 65 occupants to the La Restinga dock in El Hierro, where one person tragically lost their life and two others were hospitalised due to severe hypothermia.

Yesterday, January 27th, a cayuco arrived at the port of La Estaca, in El Hierro, with fifty people on board all suffering from hypothermia. There were also two dead bodies of people who hadn’t survived the journey, and another of the occupants died while being treated on land. According to the survivors' story, they had also thrown another person's body overboard when they were near the coast, meaning four people perished on this crossing.

More than 5,000 people have made it to the Canary Islands so far this year

Over 6,000 people died on the Canary Route last year

In 2023, the Atlantic claimed the lives of 6,007 people, with many other incidents going unreported or still classed as missing. The Right to Life report from Caminando Fronteras emphasizes a "migratory bias" in rescue activation, attributing it to the externalisation of borders. The group argues that the Spanish State pressures third countries to conduct rescues, often without adequate means or capabilities, prioritising immigration interception over saving lives.

The tragic toll on the Canary Islands route surpasses other access points to Spain, with 147 deaths in the Strait, 30 in the Alboran Sea, and 434 on the Algerian route in 2023. Of the 6,618 casualties attempting to reach Spain, 363 were women and 384 were children. The concerning trend of lives lost at sea underlines the urgent need for coordinated international efforts to address the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Atlantic.

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