By Graham Keeley
BARCELONA (Reuters) – More than 1,000 migrants reached the Canary Islands in the previous 48 hours, the Red Cross said on Saturday, the largest number since a 2006 crisis in the archipelago.
Beefed-up security on Morocco’s Mediterranean coast is pushing traffickers and migrants south to risk the perilous crossing to the Canaries, located around 60 miles (97 km) to the west of the Atlantic coast, analysts and rights groups say.
Between Thursday and Saturday, 1,015 migrants landed in 485 boats in the seven Spanish islands, a Red Cross spokesman said.
Such numbers have not been seen since 14 years ago when more than 30,000 migrants made it to the Canary Islands, as other routes to Europe were blocked off.
Though sea-borne migration to Spain is down nearly 5.8% between January and September, arrivals to the Canary Islands have surged 523.7% to 6,081 people, Interior Ministry data shows, straining local authorities.
Local politicians have asked the Spanish government for more help, saying the Canary Islands do not have enough resources.
“Our goal is to have a stable network of accommodation resources in the Canary Islands,” tweeted Immigration Minister Jose Luis Escriva after a visit to the islands on Saturday.
(Reporting by Graham Keeley; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)
FILE PHOTO: Migrants, who are part of a group intercepted aboard a dinghy off the coast, rest upon arriving at port in Arguineguin, in the Canary Island of Gran Canaria, Spain, October 16, 2017. REUTERS/Borja Suarez/File Photo