The attempt to reach the Canary Islands by African migrants is increasingly lethal. The different routes of the boats to the Canary Islands have claimed 786 lives so far this year, slightly more than three per day and 129% more than in 2020 on the same date (343). Only during the month of August, there were 379 deaths, in one of the most tragic months of which there are records in this area of the Atlantic, according to United Nations data collected by Efe and confirmed by EL PAÍS. In all of 2020, the UN counted 850 dead and missing.
The last of the deaths occurred this Tuesday. Maritime Rescue has rescued in the vicinity of Roque del Este, north of Lanzarote, a dinghy with 31 Maghreb men on board, including one deceased, as reported by the agency. An individual gave the warning voice of this boat, after which Salvamar Al Nair has gone out in his search and set course for the port of Arrecife.
The arrival of immigrants from Africa has accelerated with the end of the summer. The latest data provided by the biweekly report of the Ministry of the Interior puts the number of immigrants arriving aboard 243 boats or cayucos at 9,255, which represents an increase of 135% compared to 2020, the year that ended up being the second with the most arrivals after 2006. Only last Monday 123 people arrived on the Canary Islands in three different boats. Between midnight on Monday and early Tuesday morning, Salvamento Marítimo rescued two vessels and transferred them to Arguineguín (Gran Canaria), while a third boat arrived by its means in Lanzarote. The three boats numbered 89 people.
The dangerousness has gone hand in hand with the increase in arrivals. Deaths accounted for by the program Missing Migrants (Missing Immigrants) of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) highlight that for every 11 people who manage to reach the coasts of the islands, one life is lost. And that, despite the fact that the IOM always specifies that its data should be taken as “minimum figures”, since it recognizes that there are several “invisible shipwrecks” in which it has no way of documenting what happened to the occupants of those boats, because no body has been recovered nor is there any survivor who can provide their testimony. For this reason, the NGO Caminando Fronteras, a group that also closely follows what happens on the Canary Route, raises the balance of victims above 2,000 (1,922 in the first semester), because, in its case, it includes the occupants of about thirty boats that disappeared without a trace.
“The lack of complete data on dead and missing migrants tells an incomplete story of the lives that are lost due to the lack of safe and legal ways to migrate to Spain,” say program sources Missing Migrants. “This story reflects the lack of coordination and search systems for dead and missing migrants that allow investigating the cases of deceased or missing persons, promoting the identification of bodies as the responsibility of the State, establishing transnational search mechanisms, locating families of disappeared migrants, accompany them during the identification process and facilitate the repatriation of the identified bodies to the countries of origin ”.
August has turned out to be the deadliest month. During its 31 days, a pneumatic with 52 occupants overturned 250 kilometers from the Canary Islands and only one woman survived, who is still hospitalized. In addition, a patera was lost 500 kilometers from El Hierro and 29 people died, including seven girls; another inflatable was adrift in Laayoune and was found two weeks later in Mauritania with only seven people on board (out of 54 who left). Another shipwreck with a dozen dead in Lanzarote must also be counted.