Italy and Spain have expressed concern about an increase in irregular immigration this year to their islands in the Mediterranean or Atlantic.
The Spanish coast guard rescued 262 migrants on three boats trying to reach the Canary Islands in the early hours of Friday amid a surge in crossings, just as European leaders met in Spain to look for ways to avoid a new migration crisis. .
Italy and Spain have expressed concern about an increase in irregular immigration this year to their islands in the Mediterranean or Atlantic. Madrid has said it cannot tackle irregular immigration without help from the European Union.
Emergency services said they had taken 103 of the 262 rescued migrants to El Hierro, the westernmost and smallest of the Canary Islands, which has received more than 1,200 migrants in the last six days alone.
The head of the Red Cross emergency unit in El Hierro, Íñigo Vila, told reporters that the organization had to increase its resources to cope with the increased influx of people.
“We have reinforced our personnel and equipment to be able to provide the greatest possible coverage,” said Vila. “We have even reinforced ourselves with volunteer staff from other islands that may not be suffering the pressure that El Hierro is experiencing at the moment.”
The health service of El Hierro, which has only 11,000 inhabitants, is overwhelmed every time a ship arrives at the port, said the president of the regional government of the Canary Islands, Fernando Clavijo, on Thursday.
The other rescued migrants were transferred to the port of Los Cristianos in Tenerife and Arguineguin in Gran Canaria.
The migrants came from sub-Saharan Africa, emergency services said.
Migrant arrivals by sea to Spain have increased by a fifth so far this year compared to the same period in 2022, with more than 3,500 arriving in the Canary Islands last month amid milder weather and warmer seas. calm, as official statistics showed.
The seven islands of the Atlantic archipelago have become the main destination for immigrants trying to reach Spain. Others seek to cross the Mediterranean to the Spanish peninsula.