Spain says it is to ask the European Union for more help in stemming the growing tide of African illegal immigrants arriving on its shores. More than 18,000 migrants, mostly young men, have come in often dangerously rickety boats to the Canary Islands this year. When they spot them, coastguards rush out to the vessels which are sometimes close to sinking and save those on board. In the last 24 hours alone, over 350 migrants have washed up on Spain’s coastline. The EU has launched a sea patrol of two aircraft and two boats for the Canaries. Spain says it is not sufficient. Ten European countries have also offered to help. But it has been slow to come.
For Froilan Rodriguez, a regional immigration minister, it is not only keeping illegal immigrants out that is at issue – it is saving lives. “Some NGOs report that 3,000 people died trying to get here in the last few years,” he explained. There has been a crackdown on traditional routes into Europe through Morocco and while some are now put off from making the crossing, others are still willing to put their lives at risk in search of a better life.