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The arrival of illegal immigrants to the Canary Islands increased tenfold within a year

The Canary Islands are increasingly becoming a hot spot for illegal immigration to Europe.

Brussels - The number of unauthorized entries found there has increased tenfold within a year, according to an internal analysis by the EU Commission, on which Welt am Sonntag reports. According to this, 17,911 arrivals were registered in the Canary Islands by November 22nd of this year (previous year 1775). One in five of the 88,550 migrants who entered the EU illegally this year via the southern countries arrived on the islands off the north-west coast of Africa.

The route across the Spanish archipelago is now used twice as often as that across the Greek islands (8,846). The situation in the region has been worsening since September. The Brussels officials assume that the "influx to the Canary Islands continues to increase".

The main reasons they cite are the typically good weather conditions until the end of December, and secondly, the corona pandemic and the poor economic situation in the countries of origin motivate many to cross. Thirdly, the already very low risk of deportation for the migrants, mostly from Morocco and sub-Saharan countries, has decreased significantly in the wake of the pandemic. According to the analysis, a total of 35,342 migrants have reached Spain this year (plus 24 percent), 132 were killed during the crossing.

This means that Spain is now the main arrival country for illegal travelers, ahead of Italy and Greece. The domestic policy spokesman for the Union parliamentary group, Mathias Middelberg (CDU), sees an urgent need for action: "An EU project should demonstrate in the Canary Islands that rapid procedures and returns are feasible, as the plans for European asylum reform at all external borders provide." The long-announced major reform of the EU asylum system, however, is experiencing a setback.

In a letter from the heads of government of Spain, Italy, Greece and Malta to Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen and Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), on which Welt am Sonntag reported, the "imbalance" of the reform concept presented by Brussels in September is criticized. The senders demand the no longer envisaged "compulsory redistribution" of the arrivals within the Union. In addition, the planned "mandatory asylum procedures at the external borders" would have to be revised. The planned establishment of "large closed asylum centers" is "unacceptable". The states, however, want to continue to decide for themselves which migrant groups they want to carry out rapid border procedures for. In Germany this causes disappointment. Union parliamentary group Vice Thorsten Frei (CDU) said, should the coastal states insist on their position, "the chances of the agreement on key points of the reform sought by Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer will decrease considerably this year". He describes the "external border procedures in closed asylum centers" as politically indispensable. "If this pillar collapses, the whole building will collapse." Without it, "the reform would not be acceptable from a German point of view".

Photo: Santiago Ferrero / Reuters (2006).
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