Hundreds of people rescued near the Canary Islands in recent days

Migrants have been arriving on Spain’s Canary Islands at a staggering rate in recent days. While most were rescued at sea, some actually managed to reach the archipelago on their own.

Spain’s official search and rescue agency, Salvamento Marítimo, rescued 15 people at sea in the early morning hours of Friday 13 May. However, one person from the group was found dead during this mission. The group were found sailing in a dinghy about 141 kilometers south of Gran Canary when they were spotted, according to the Spaniard ECE Press Agency.

Salvamento Marítimo rescued another 20 migrants located north of Lanzarote later in the day.

Meanwhile, on the same day, the search and rescue vessel Guardamar Caliope intercepted two other boats, which had been sighted by a merchant vessel about 185 kilometers south of Gran Canaria, according to ECE. The undisclosed number of migrants aboard these boats are believed to be of North African origin.

Read more: Spain and Morocco decide to discourage irregular migration

Days and days of rescue missions

On Thursday, a total of 318 migrants were rescued from the waters surrounding the archipelago. Among them were a total of 31 women and 12 children, according to data provided to ECE by Salvamento Marítimo.

Among the survivors were people from sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa, with two of the boats in distress having been taken to the island of Gran Canaria and three to Lanzarote.

One person was found dead during Friday’s rescue operations | Photo: Borja Suarez/Reuters

On Wednesday, Salvamento Marítimo rescued 223 people at sea, including 35 suspected minors included in the group.

The Guardamar Caliope saved another 71 lives, which were all bundled up in a dinghy 87 kilometers south of Fuerteventura, the closest of the islands. The people, all identified as sub-Saharan, were brought to the Gran Canaria port of Arguineguin after a long rescue mission.

Another 61 people of sub-Saharan origin were rescued on Tuesday by the Salvamar Mizar ship, about 65 kilometers east of Fuerteventura.

On the same day, a migrant boat with 37 people of North African origin on board managed to land on the island of Lanzarote.

Read more: Canary Islands: 25 presumed dead as migrant boat capsizes

Deadly Crossings

So far this year, more than 5,700 migrants have made the dangerous crossing to the Canary Islands, more than double the number in the same period of 2020.

The UN migration agency, IOM, said more than 1,000 deaths were recorded on the Atlantic route to the Canary Islands in 2021 – more than any previous year for a decade. According to the IOM, the actual death toll on this route is almost certain to be much higher, as boats often disappear without a trace.

These “invisible wrecks” are believed to represent hundreds, if not thousands, of additional lives lost.

Read more: A “significant number” of migrants sent back to Morocco from Spain

With EFE, Canarias7, EuropaPress