Canary Islands Sees 700 Per Cent Rise in Migrants

The Spanish Canary Islands have seen a massive 700 per cent rise in illegal migrant arrivals in 2020 and European Union officials are calling the influx “unsustainable”.

European Union Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson sounded the alarm about the surge in new migrant arrivals so far this year, saying: “In the Canary Islands, there is a 700 per cent increase compared to last year, I think. Which is obviously unsustainable.”

Spain also released figures on new arrivals on Friday, stating that as of the end of September, 6,081 migrants had arrived on the Canary Islands in 225 makeshift boats, a total increase of 523 per cent since 2019, Euractiv reports.

The Spanish figures are somewhat lower than those cited by Johansson, but it is believed that the numbers given by the European Commissioner were not for the entire year but a short period, as most landings have mainly taken place at certain times of the year.

While Johansson defended the right for asylum seekers to seek refugee status in the European Union, she also stressed that those who come for purely economic reasons should return to their home countries if their applications are denied.

“In order to defend the right to asylum and to offer international protection to those who need it, we must also say, and show our citizens, that those who do not need protection, those who receive a negative decision, have an obligation to return,” she said.

As migrant numbers grow in not just the Canary Islands but also in Greece and Italy in recent months, the European Union has vowed to reshape the bloc’s migrant policy and scrap the Dublin Agreement which forced asylum seekers to claim asylum in the first EU member state they set foot in.

Just days later, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz commented that redistributing migrants was a failed policy and the EU should focus energy on defending its external borders instead.

The European Commission’s new migration pact will, instead, allow countries who do not want to take in migrants to pay to sponsor the return of those who have rejected asylum claims.

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