Immigrant Boatload Brought In To Tenerife By Rescuers

Immigrant boatload brought in to Tenerife by rescuers

Agence France Presse
Aug 9, 2008

TENERIFE, Spain (AFP) A fresh wave of 84 African would-be immigrants were brought in to Spain's Tenerife, after they were picked up in their crowded boat off the Canary island, rescue services said Saturday.

The group included two women and a girl aged about five. Two of the men were taken for hospital treatment, an AFP photographer reported.

The influx brings to more than 200 the number of illegal migrants who have landed on Tenerife, off northwest Africa's Atlantic coast, since Thursday.

Spain is a main destination for illegal immigration in Europe. Thousands of Africans seeking to escape poverty try to reach the Canary Islands or the Spanish mainland across the Strait of Gibraltar from Morocco every year.

Dozens drown or die each year from hunger, thirst or exposure during the attempted crossing.

“We will be seeing these boats landing for many more years,” General Francisco Gabella of Spain's Civil Guard said in an interview published earlier Saturday in the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

“The difference in income per capita between Africa and Europe makes it hard to avoid more departures of migrants. But we want to control the influx,” he added.

The sight of boatloads of weakened, thirsty migrants arriving in wooden boats on Spain's beaches on nightly television news bulletins led the government to step up its measures against illegal immigration and cause a drop in arrivals.

Spain has worked with other European Union nations to increase air and sea patrols and it has signed repatriation agreements with several African nations that have made it easier to send back clandestine migrants.

During the first seven months of this year, 7,165 migrants reached Spain by boat, a 9.1 percent drop over the same period last year, and a 58.9 percent decline over 2006, the interior ministry said Friday.