Spain seeks to curb migrant stream to Canary Islands

International

MADRID (AP) — More than 400 migrants arrived by sea in Spain’s Canary Islands over a 24-hour period, emergency services said on Thursday, as the Spanish government discussed with Algerian officials ways of fighting illegal migration from North Africa to Europe.

Most of the migrants came from sub-Saharan Africa but they also included at least eight from Bangladesh.

The migrants were on seven boats approaching the archipelago off northwest Africa, authorities said.

Migrant arrivals in the Canary Islands have surged this year, according to Spain’s Interior Ministry. Up until Oct. 31, 17,000 migrants reached the archipelago – up 44% over the same period last year.

Overall, the number of migrants reaching Spain by sea this year has grown by 24%, to more than 32,700.

More than 4,500 Bangladeshi migrants reached Europe by land or sea last year, according to the United Nations. More than 90% of them went to Italy, with Spain, Greece and Malta receiving the remainder.

In 2019, Spanish police said border officials in Algeria and Morocco had conspired with people traffickers to smuggle hundreds of people from Asia into Spain across the Mediterranean Sea.

A Bangladesh-based smuggling ring fraudulently obtained visas to Algeria in the first step of their scheme, police said at the time.

Spain’s Interior Minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, on Thursday met in Madrid with his Algerian counterpart Kamel Beldjoud, saying that Algeria is “a priority and a key actor” in efforts to ease migrant pressure on Spain.

Beldjoud was due to meet on Friday with Spain’s police chief to discuss ways of cracking down on organized crime, including gangs that smuggle people across borders.

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For more of AP’s migration coverage https://apnews.com/hub/migration

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