In November alone, in what may be an all-time monthly high for the islands, the Spanish Canary Islands saw over 8,000 migrants arrive.
Spain’s Interior Ministry said 8,157 migrants arrived on the Canary Islands last month, making up a significant portion of the estimated 20,000 migrants who have come to the islands so far in 2020.
According to a report from the French newspaper Le Figaro, arrivals this year are up to ten times higher than landings in 2019, with the islands becoming swamped due to the influx.
After budgeting EUR 84 million for the emergency project, the Spanish government will create temporary housing for up to 7,000 migrants. As several remain empty due to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic hampering the tourism trade, many migrants have also taken up residency in local hotels.
According to Le Figaro, after the European Union negotiated pacts with Turkey, Libya and Morocco to stop migration along the central and eastern Mediterranean routes, the Canary Islands, on the Atlantic migrant route, have become a great attraction for migrants. The wave of migrants is also approaching the yearly record for the islands which took place in 2006 when 30,000 illegals arrived.
Objection to the arrival of migrants and their stays in hotels has been expressed by the locals, with numerous demonstrations in recent weeks.
Last month, the President of the Cabinet of Gran Canaria, Antonio Morales, ridiculed the European Union, saying: “Spain and the EU are trying to turn the Canaries into a second Lesbos and a sort of prison island. The strategy is clear: migrants should have the feeling that they have not arrived in Europe.’’
In the meantime, Ricardo Ortega of the Local Fishermen’s Association claimed that coronavirus was already damaging the tourism industry on the islands and that the arrival of large numbers of migrants could further hurt the business.
“We live off tourism. Many tourists are staying away because of coronavirus. The pictures of masses of refugees could keep even more tourists away,” he stated.