More than 1,000 migrants reach Spain’s Canary Islands in a single day

23 October 2023 - 11:32
By Reuters
Migrants wait to disembark from a Spanish coast guard vessel in the port of Arguineguin on the island of Gran Canaria, Spain on May 23 2023. Between January 1 and October 15 this year, the Canary Islands received 23,537 migrants. File photo.
Image: REUTERS/Borja Suarez Migrants wait to disembark from a Spanish coast guard vessel in the port of Arguineguin on the island of Gran Canaria, Spain on May 23 2023. Between January 1 and October 15 this year, the Canary Islands received 23,537 migrants. File photo.

More than 1,000 migrants arrived in Spain's Canary Islands in a single day on Saturday after making the dangerous journey from Africa, including on a boat carrying 320 people that rescuers said was the most packed vessel they had ever seen.

The Red Cross, which was helping treat the migrants, said a wooden boat that arrived on the island of El Hierro marked a record number of arrivals in a single boat. The previous record was a boat carrying 271 people that arrived in El Hierro on October 3.

Saturday's arrivals included 783 in El Hierro, 98 in Tenerife and 150 in Gran Canaria, the Red Cross said. The boats' passengers included women and small children.

In Gran Canaria, the coast guard towed a wooden boat carrying migrants, including a toddler, into the port of Arguineguin. Wooden boats from previous arrivals were docked in the port.

The seven islands of the Atlantic archipelago have become the main destination for migrants trying to reach Spain, and this year there has been an increase in attempted crossings from Senegal and other African countries.

Between January 1 and October 15 this year, the islands received 23,537 migrants, an 80% increase from the same period last year, according to official data.

At least 1,000 people have died attempting the crossing so far this year, according to the Walking Borders charity.

Spain's acting migration minister pledged an aid package worth €50m (R1bn) on October 19 to help the Canary Islands cope with an “extraordinary migration flow”.