The influx of individuals undertaking perilous sea journeys from West Africa to Spain’s Canary Islands skyrocketed over 1,000% in January compared to the previous year, according to data from Spain’s interior ministry.
Between January 1 and January 31, an astounding 7,270 people successfully reached the archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. This marks an extraordinary nearly 13-fold increase from the 566 individuals recorded in the same month in 2023, underscoring the intensification of migration challenges in the region.
The Canary Islands, known for their status as one of Spain’s prime tourist destinations, witnessed an unprecedented influx last year when 39,910 people arrived, establishing an all-time record. The island of El Hierro, the smallest and westernmost in the chain, experienced a remarkable phenomenon where the number of migrants exceeded its own population of approximately 9,000 during the course of 2023.
Amid this surge, the Atlantic route leading to the Canary Islands has been identified as the deadliest migration route to Spain.
According to a report from the rights group Walking Borders, an alarming 6,007 individuals lost their lives during the perilous sea voyage in the preceding year. This highlights the significant humanitarian challenges associated with irregular migration routes, particularly those involving treacherous sea crossings.
The broader context reveals a concerning trend, with the total number of people entering Spain through irregular means, encompassing both land and sea routes, reaching 8,067 in January.
This represents a remarkable 524% surge compared to the same period a year ago, emphasizing the urgency of addressing the multifaceted issues driving irregular migration and the associated risks.
As authorities grapple with managing the influx, these statistics assert the need for comprehensive and collaborative efforts to address the root causes of migration, enhance border controls, and ensure the safety and well-being of those embarking on these challenging journeys.
The situation also calls for international cooperation to address the complex factors contributing to the surge in migration from West Africa to the Canary Islands.