Cayucos and pateras in the Canaries: intense night in Canarian waters with 300 immigrants arriving in these islands, some in critical condition

Photo: Puertos de Tenerife

Updated 27 June: The last twelve or so hours have been the most intense for rescues in Canarian waters in months. Almost 300 immigrants arrived here overnight, with seven craft carrying 298 in all, about 100 of them women and 26 minors, being brought into Tenerife, Gran Canaria, El Hierro, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. In Tenerife, the craft brought into Los Cristianos harbour last night had 57 occupants, four being transfered to hospital, one a child in critical condition, while the other 53 on board were assisted quayside.

Updated 28 May: A cayuco with 48 on board including three women and four children arrived at Los Cristianos overnight. Emergency services say that it was intercepted a couple of miles south of Las Galletas and escorted into harbour where they were assessed as being in good health but four of the adult male occupants needed to be treated for hypothermia and dehydration. 

Updated 10 May: A cayuco intercepted south of Tenerife earlier today was escorted into Los Cristianos harbour by the Coastguard. Emergency Services say that the 55 on board were in reasonable condition though one needed to be transferred to a medical centre for treatment.  

Updated 29 April: After the arrival last night of the tragic boat containing 24 corpses, Los Cristianos was also the scene for the arrival today of a cayuco with 20 on board. The Coatguard escorted the craft in after it was intercepted last night some 13 miles south of Tenerife, with all on board in good health. 

Updated 28 April: The last, sad stage of their journey of hope ended today for those who perished on the way to the Canaries as they finally reached their destination. The patera containing 17 bodies that was found a couple of days ago was towed into Los Cristianos harbour by the Coastguard around 8pm this evening; tragically, it was ascertained that the number of the dead was actually 24, not 17, two of them minors.  

Updated 27 April: The three survivors, two men and a woman, of the tragic patera which contained 17 dead are stable in hospital, Sanidad (Canarias) has said, with the man in the worse condition being in HUC and the other man and the woman in Candelaria Hospital. Meanwhile, a Guardia Civil patrol boat which was on the way to help the Coastguard operation was diverted to intercept another boat of hope south of Gran Canaria: the 41 on board – 29 men, nine women, three minors –  are now being brought into Los Cristianos where they’re expected to arrive this evening. Canarian President Torres has said this lunchtime that the craft with the 17 bodies in it was being towed to land, “a dramatic reality that troubles our conscience; it must end, and there must be answers and solutions”. This afternoon, however, another craft arrived at Los Cristianos by its own means: the 13 on board are said to have been in good condition. 

Updated 26 April: A patera spotted adrift around 500km south of El Hierro had just three survivors among the 20 on board, the Coastguard has confirmed. The three male survivors from the boat of abject despair were taken to El Hierro and then flown by helicopter to TFN where they were transferred to hospital for medical attention. Another 17 lives lost in a desperate voyage of hope.

Updated 23 April: A cayuco with 51 on board was intercepted off the coast of Las Galletas this afternoon and escorted into Los Cristianos harbour. Of those on board, 12 needed to be transferred to hospital for dehydration, one of them in serious condition.  

Updated 11 April: A cayuco containing 23 migrants, four of whom had died, was located some 200km from El Hierro earlier today. The survivors in the craft have been evacuated in absolutely dreadful conditions. The 16 most seriously ill have been taken by two helicopters to Tenerife (TFS) and El Hierro itself: ten of them are said to be in critical condition, so badly indeed that they were initially counted among the dead, and the other six gravely ill. In Tenerife, some have been taken to Candelaria Hospital and others to El Mojón.

Updated 9 April: A patera with 13 male migrants on board has been brought into Los Cristianos by the Coastguard who picked it up just south of Tenerife. Also rescued was a patera with 25 migrants on it which was taken into Arrecife, Lanzarote. All on board both craft are said to be in good health.  

Updated 28 March: It was a busy night in Canarian waters with six boats of hope being brought into the islands. One carrying 58 was brought into Santa Cruz harbour, one carrying six to Valle Gran Rey in La Gomera, and four others between them carrying the remainder of the total of 239 migrants being taken to Gran Canaria. Those on board, who included 20 women and five children, were generally in good health, with eight needing to be taken to hospital for treatment. 

Updated 26 March: Two women and a man perished after a patera carrying 45 migrants overturned off the Poris coast shortly before 9am this morning. Of the other 42 occupants of the craft, 41 were rescued from the sea by the Coastguard, which had been carrying out a rescue mission with the patera when it capsized. The man’s body was transferred to Los Cristianos harbour along with 36 survivors including four children and a baby, while a fishing vessel assisting in the operation transferred the bodies of the two women and five survivors into the little harbour at Porís. Another woman who is pregnant was rescued by helicopter and transferred to a hospital centre for hypothermia while another four are receiving treatment for the condition at the quayside at Poris. The Coastguard says that several fishing vessels are remaining in the area to ascertain if there is any evidence of another wreck, which suggests that this tragic patera wasn’t the only one in the area, nor the only one in difficulties. There have now been 22 deaths in the Canaries or Canarian waters of occupants of these crafts so far in 2021. 

Updated 21 March: The little girl who was resuscitated quayside and taken to hospital in critical condition after suffering a heart attack has died. The child was two years old, from Mali, and her name was Nabody. She died in the Hospital Materno Infantil in Gran Canaria where she had been since she was admitted last Tuesday. She is the nineteenth to die on the “Canaries route” in 2021. May she rest in peace in an afterlife that can only be kinder to her than life was.

Updated 20 March: It’s been very sad the last several days with around ten of a craft of about 30 migrants brought into Gran Canaria now in hospital, one a small girl who had to be resuscitated quayside after suffering a heart attack, all in dreadful condition through hypothermia, one so bad he was thought to have died on the journey but was admitted as an emergency to hospital, one a pregnant woman. A craft of abject desperation. Now today, a cayuco found adrift four miles south of Tenerife this morning has been brought into Los Cristianos. On board were a dozen migrants who on this occasion were thankfully in general good health, though two were taken to a health centre for different conditions.

Updated 9 March: The tragedies continue with reports this morning of a cayuco intercepted some 250km off Gran Canaria with 49 on board, 14 of them minors. One of those on board was found to have died before reaching safety, but the survivors say that there were another four who had died in the crossing, the five fatalities bringing to 16 the number who’ve perished in the attempt to reach Europe so far in 2021.

Updated 6 March: A cayuco with 15 on board, all men including one minor, was intercepted off south Tenerife in the early hours of this morning and escorted into Los Cristianos harbour. All on board are said to have been in good health.

Updated 10 February: A patera spotted on Sunday was finally located today by the Coastguard who rescued its occupants just south of Palm Mar this lunchtime. They were brought into Los Cristianos shortly before 3pm where the 37 on board, 13 men, 16 women and eight minors were assessed: one of the women needed to be taken to a health centre for a non-serious injury. A second patera was found near Fuerteventura with 33 on board all of whom were in good health.   

Updated 29 January: I posted last November that in addition to the Barranco Seco encampment for migrants in Gran Canaria a new one was being set up in Las Raices, in an old military zone near La Esperanza which will be able to accommodate around 2,000. That is now ready and will start to receive migrants next week from hotels and apartment complexes both here and in Gran Canaria. In the Canarian Government’s announcement, spokesman Julio Pérez explained that a second camp was currently being established in the Las Canteras barracks in La Laguna. This should be open during February but, Pérez stressed, should not detract from the need for the mainland to step in and help with redistributing the arrivals throughout the country.   

Updated 20 January: A patera with 48 on board was located just south of Palm Mar this lunchtime. It was escorted into Los Cristianos where its occupants were assessed by medical personnel, five being transferred to a health centre for assistance, primarily for hypothermia and dehydration. The craft was one of four rescued in Canarian waters this morning: between them there were 204 migrants on board, 26 of them minors. 

Updated 10 January: We’ve just had Storm Filomena blow through, and weather alerts have warned about the state of the seas, which were wild. Imagine then the conditions encountered on the way by the latest craft to arrive at Tenerife, a cayuco with 89 on board that was located around 7am this morning a few miles southwest of the island. It was escorted into Los Cristianos at about 10am where medical personnel assessed the occupants’ need for assistance. On board were two boys, five women, and 82 men, one of whom had died en route, the sixth to lose their life in the crossing in what are just the first ten days of 2021.

Updated 5 January: A cayuco carrying 47 arrived overnight off the coast of El Médano. Grimly, three had already died, and a fourth died on playa de El Cabezo while being attended by medical personnel on site to assist the arrivals. Three others were taken to medical centres for burns and abrasions.

Updated 3 January: A cayuco with 53 on board was brought into Los Cristianos by the Coastguard this afternoon. It had been discovered south of Tenerife, and its occupants were assisted at the harbour by medical personnel and Cruz Roja.  

Updated 2 January 2021: A patera with around 60 on board was escorted into Los Cristianos yesterday after being spotted adrift by the Coastguard near the coast. It was followed shortly afterwards by a second craft, a cayuco which beached itself at La Tejita. Some 40 were on board, some of whom required medical assistance.

Updated 27 December 2020: Three craft arrived at the Canaries overnight, carrying 112 migrants in total. Two with 89 on board (80 men, one woman and one baby – yes I know they don’t add up, but that’s what the Control Room says) were intercepted and escorted into Gran Canaria, the other with 23 on board (21 men, one woman and one child) was brought into Tenerife. Emergency services say that one woman needed to be transferred to a Tenerife medical centre for assistance for non-serious conditions. 

Updated 15 December: Six pateras were located south of the Canaries overnight, emergency services have reported. The craft were carrying 181 migrants in total, 133 from five boats were escorted into Arguineguín in Gran Canaria while the last carrying 48 was brought into Los Cristianos. All were assessed by health service professionals and Cruz Roja, and only one needed to be transferred to hospital for medical assistance.   

Updated 12 December: A patera with 13 male occupants including two minors was intercepted overnight just a mile off the coast at Playa de Troya, Adeje, emergency services say. It was escorted to Los Cristianos where all on board were medically assessed, with one adult and one minor were taken to hospital for treatment. 

Updated 11 December: A patera with 40 men on board arrived at Playa de Las Vistas around 2pm yesterday. The craft arrived on its own, having not been intercepted, in full view of people using the Los Cristianos beach. Emergency services say that four of the occupants needed to be taken to hospital for medical assistance.

Updated 30 November: A cayuco with 73 on board has been brought to Santa Cruz by the Coastguard around 8am this morning after being intercepted a couple of miles south of Tenerife. Ten of the occupants needed treatment for hypothermia and others are being assisted by Cruz Roja in a tent erected in the harbour for the purpose.

Meanwhile, in Gran Canaria, the new Barranco Seco encampment has enabled the much-criticized tent arrangement in Arguineguín harbour to be dismantled. It was finally emptied last night, after three months in which it had become hugely controversial because it was attending several hundred, thousands at one point, for days (and nights) in conditions that were intended as purely transitory. While the hot potato is being passed round, though, conditions were becoming insalubrious and at times dangerous. All that will now remain are a few tents for immediate treatment of those who arrive as part of their processing. What happens when Barranco Seco is full is another story …

Updated 4pm, 29/11: The situation in the Canaries has been reported in the tabloids for a while but THIS report in the Guardian today is a far less sensationalist report that’s also far more researched, detailed, and in depth than the red tops provide for their readership. One part of it mirrors my own previous remarks: “According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), at least 563 people have died on the Atlantic route in 2020. That figure doesn’t take into account the Lanzarote deaths, nor the 10 other possible, but unconfirmed, shipwrecks that the IOM is looking into. Until we have a safe, legal and organised way for people to move about, we’re going to carry on seeing these irregular crossings.” I’d just add, as I’ve said before, that we’re going to carry on seeing them anyway while global inequality is such as it is, and while the poor, disadvantaged, and exploited feel they have no choice but to try to get their fair share of planetary wealth.

Updated 29 November: A cayuco with 44 male migrants on board, 20 or so of them thought to be minors, was intercepted around 11pm last night a few miles south of Palm Mar. The craft was brought into Los Cristianos where none of its occupants were found to need transfer to medical centres for attention.

Updated 5pm, 25/11: It won’t only be Gran Canaria with a tent city. As well as that island’s encampment for migrants in Barranco Seco, Tenerife too will have one, it has now been announced. The reception centre will be set up in Las Raices, in an old military zone near La Esperanza,

Updated 4pm, 25/11: A dreadful night last night for Lanzarote and Gran Canaria, and today, Tenerife has itself received a patera with 48 on board. The craft with 48 on board was brought into Los Cristianos this morning by the Coastguard after it was spotted some 3m south of Tenerife. All of the occupants, four thought to be children, are said to be in good health.

Updated 25 November: Emergency services have confirmed this morning that last night’s rescue involved the Coastguard and Guardia Civil in assisting over 300 migrants located in 11 boats off Lanzarote. The occupants of one of those craft were taken to Arrecife and the rest to Arguineguín where they will presumably be taken to the tent city in Barranco Seco. Canarian health system medics and Cruz Roja assisted those who needed medical help and transferred six to local health centres but confirmed the death of one of one poor soul whose passing brought the tally to eight dead. A tragic, tortuous, torrid night for Lanzarote.  

Updated 24 November: The political temperature will not be cooled by a tragedy that has unfolded this evening off north Lanzarote. A patera overturned and the sad result as of 10.30pm is that four have died, 27 have survived, all men who say that on board there had also been women and children. Emergency services are still searching in heartbreaking scenes.

Updated 8pm, 22/11: A second patera today has arrived in Los Cristianos this evening. Emergency services say that the craft, with 28 on board, was towed into the harbour by the Coastguard. The occupants comprised twelve women, eleven men, and five children, all in good health.   

Updated 22 November: A boat carrying 78 migrants was intercepted some five miles south of Palm Mar last night. The craft was escorted to Los Cristianos where all occupants were found to be in good health.  

Meanwhile, the Canarian Government is continuing its calls for assistance in the face of the national Government’s refusal to allow mass transfer of migrants to the mainland but we are, it seems, to remain a pressure point for political reasons, understandable reasons but reasons that infuriate the regional authorities nonetheless. As Spanish Deputy PM Carmen Calvo has said, Spain already has agreements in place with some countries to return any migrants coming from them, and the national Government will not allow the people trafficking mafias to learn that the Canaries are a way into Europe. This is a problem for Europe, not just Spain, she said.  

Updated 20 November: As we knew, Spanish ministro del Interior Marlaska was visiting Morocco today to talk about the migration situation in the Canaries. He has completely ruled out a mass transfer of migrants to the mainland from the Canaries, something he was almost bound to do to avoid seeming to give carte blanche to Morocco’s lack of policing of its waters. The problem has to be seen to be growing here simply to create the pressure needed, it appears, with Marlaska saying that the whole issue was one of “migratory politics, which are a matter for the EU and not just Spain”.

Meanwhile the Canaries are apparently to remain as a holding zone, the situation in which the authorities never wanted to find themselves and which they resisted as far as possible. The Canarian Government won’t like it but Spain’s stance, as argued by Marlaska in Rabat, is that the problem needs to be fought at source, with the boats stopped from entering any part of Europe rather than resolved by shuffling the situation within the bloc. That’s a stance that Morocco won’t like either. There are no winners in this, only losers, and right now the Canaries are at the sharp end of the problem.

Updated 4pm, 19/11: However much the authorities don’t want any part of these islands to come to resemble the Moria camp in Lesbos or Sangatte in France, the reality is that there is now a tent city in the Canaries, in the old polvorín in Barranco Seco in Gran Canaria. It has a capacity of 800 places but I don’t think there are now too many who expect that capacity not to be exceeded, and quite quickly.

This evening, 200 more migrants will be headed there, and national and regional politicians find themselves in a quandary, simultaneously playing a blame game and a pass the parcel one with human beings. And with Morocco seemingly feeling it holds many of the cards ahead of tomorrow’s meeting with Spanish Home Secretary Marlaska, his own department, the Ministro del Interior, has announced rhat the Policía Nacional complement in the islands will be increased by two groups from the Unidad de Intervención Policial (Police Intervention Unit).

Updated 19 November: For want of anywhere in the north to house them, around 20 of the group of migrants which arrived in Santa Cruz from Gran Canaria yesterday spent the night at the harbour having refused to be brought south with the others to be accommodated in a hotel kitted out for immigration purposes by the Canarian Government and Cruz Roja. All, however, say that they want to go to the mainland. The authorities here will second that wish. For the moment, however, there seems to be no clarity to the situation nor how it is supposed to develop from here but Marlaska, the national Ministro del Interior (Home Secretary) who is under fire at the moment, is heading to Morocco tomorrow, it appears, and it’s not difficult to imagine the nature or heat of the talks in which he is likely to be engaged with his opposite number there.

Updated 10pm, 18/11: It doesn’t get any easier. Tonight, around 200 migrants who arrived in Gran Canaria on pateras in recent days tried to leave Santa Cruz to sail to Huelva on the mainland. How they got to Santa Cruz is at present unclear, but they were of course not able to board the ship because they didn’t have any proper documentation. Now Tenerife’s capital city’s mayor Bermúdez is spitting fire that the migrants had come from Gran Canaria by some means, and without the documentation that prevented them getting on the ferry in Santa Cruz, and that he has to sort out their accommodation with no advance warning of any sort from any authority, and no available places for them. He complained that the lack of information, commitment and responsibility of both the regional and national Government is “serious and ongoing” in a situation he described as “absolutely unacceptable”.  

Updated 2pm, 18/11: I said yesterday that the army had been required to build a tent camp for migrants away from the port, and that is now housing 2,301 migrants who had been in the harbour, as well as the 227 who left the harbour last night under unclear circumstances. The tent city is in the old polvorín in Barranco Seco in Gran Canaria, an instalation that used to be an explosives base. Maybe that was why the former mayor of Tenerife’s La Laguna, Ana Oramas has said that these islands as a whole were now a polvorín – for obvious reasons the word has come to have the common meaning of powder keg.

Oramas also called on the national Interior Minister to resign but he has already rejected that idea though he has committed to investigating the incident. Pressure is building, that is clear, and if we and especially Gran Canaria don’t get a solution soon, there is likely to be a real explosion of one sort or another. And whether they want it to be another Sangatte or Moría or not, the Canaries has a tent city – here is the new Centro de Atención Temporal a Extranjeros (CATE) in Barranco Seco, Gran Canaria.

Photo: Gobierno de Canarias

Updated 18 November: This has a fair capacity for creating a diplomatic incident so let’s hope it doesn’t! Overnight the blame game has been played from all quarters, with the police mainly getting it in the neck for “facilitating” the departure of 227 migrants from Arguineguín harbour. Everyone is expressing outrage at the police’s behaviour while the police themselves are keeping tight lipped about whose orders they were actually following.

In the end, the migrants were not admitted to the Moroccan Consulate but started to hang around the plaza outside with no shelter: this for migrants is counter to international law which decrees housing and medical support for anyone claiming asylum until their claims are proven or rejected. They are, police say, supposed to be processed at entry points like harbours within a set time which, in this and many other cases, is exceeded … and that itself breaks international law. But with so many arrivals, there is no solution that is legal, so heads need to be scratched in earnest … and meanwhile the police act according to the law and according to instructions from somewhere unknown.

The Canarian authorities are calling for Fernando Grande-Marlaska Gómez, the Spanish Ministro del Interior (Home Secretary), to go. He has refused to resign but no doubt would prefer right now not to have immigration as part of his brief. Others, however, suspect that orders came from within the Canaries to increase political pressure on the national Government to find a solution to release the physical pressure on Canarian infrastructure.

Meanwhile the migrants were returned to Maspalomas in the south of Gran Canaria last night and have been accommodated in tourist accommodation currently not in use.

Updated 5.30pm, 17/11: The Gran Canarian authorities’ head scratching seems to have come up with a solution, at least temporarily. As we well know, Gran Canaria at present has received the overwhelming majority of migrants intercepted in these waters, and has dismantled the large tents at Arguineguín harbour in an attempt to focus attention on the conditions there. In its refusal to become the new Sangatte or Moría, the authorities had the army create a tent camp for the arrivals away from the port but today seems to have pushed them to a new determination not to become 2020’s Lampedusa.

The authorities have become convinced that the problem right now is one of Morocco not policing the sea ways as they used to when the Canaries route was active in the early 2000s. That situation did improve through diplomatic means and, it must be admitted, financial ones: essentially Morocco was paid to police its own coast and seas, and so in conjunction with the EU and Spain, the situation was so controlled that the route was impractical for the traffickers and they switched to the Mediterranean crossing with the effect we’ve seen worsen over the last decade.

Now, however, Morocco seems to be agitating for extra mining rights in waters beyond its own, in particular they want to explore for minerals as well as oil, and there is great suspicion that they are determinedly not policing their waters at all right now in order to pressure Spain for more maritime concessions when their urgent policing is needed of the shift back to the Canaries of the traffickers’ migratory route. Whether or not this is the case, this is what the authorities are beginning to believe is the case, and with this no doubt in mind, the Gran Canarian authorities’ have today focused rather specifically on what they perceive to be the root of the problem.

And so around 200 of today’s arrivals have been removed from Arguineguin harbour on the grounds that they’d been left high and dry on the roadside, no food nor help. They were officially transferred to Gran Canaria’s capital Las Palmas … and deposited at the Moroccan Consulate …

Updated 17 November: patera with 32 on board including seven children was intercepted this morning off the Granadilla coast at Montaña Roja. All are said to have been in good health. Also off our coasts this morning, six other pateras were interepted with a total of 584 migrants on board including one woman and ten children, all were taken to Arguineguín harbour in Gran Canaria where one of the men needed to be taken to hospital, and where the authorities are beside themselves in knowing how to cope.  

Updated 14 November: A patera with 26 on board was intercepted around 8.30am today by the Coastguard just south of Palm Mar. The craft was escorted into Los Cristianos by a Guardia Civil launch where its occupants, 14 men, 11 women, and 1 child, were found to be in good health. Their vessel was one of 14 found off the Canarian coasts last night carring 320 in all: the others were taken to Fuerteventura and, as usual for most of the arrivals, Gran Canaria.

Updated 13 November: A cayuco with 25 on board was brought into Los Cristianos this morning, emergency services say, with none needing hospital attention.    

Updated 12 November: A cayuco with 90 on board has arrived at Los Cristianos after being spotted some 10 miles south of Palm Mar. Emergency services say that six of those on board have been taken to hospital for dehydration and slight injuries. The craft was one of six today to these islands carrying 281 migrants, twelve of whom have needed hospital attention.

Updated 11pm, 10/11: A second craft today arrived at Los Cristianos this evening after being picked up south of the island. Emergency Services say that of the 129 on board the cayuco, one needed to be transferred to a medical centre with abdominal pain but the rest were in good condition.

Updated 10 November: A patera with 91 occupants, of whom three were  women and 22 thought to be children, was intercepted around 7am this morning 7 miles south of Palm Mar. Emergency services say that it was escorted to Los Cristianos where those on board were attended by medical personnel. All are said to have been in good health.

Updated 11pm, 7/11: It has been a very tough day today in the Canaries and the final figures have been confirmed by the 112 control room as 1,096 arrivals on 20 boats: 643 in Gran Canaria, 271 in Tenerife, 159 in El Hierro, and 23 in La Gomera. Among them one had lost their life, and several others have needed medical attention but none very seriously so. The logistical problems do not get any easier.

Updated 7 November: Two cayucos spotted around 10km south of Palm Mar around lunchtime have been brought into Los Cristianos this afternoon, each carrying over 100 migrants. They are just two arrivals from 17 boats of hope today that have reached the Canaries carrrying some 900 migrants in all.

Updated 6 November: A patera carrying 118 migrants that was spotted some 6 miles south of Palm Mar was escorted by Coastguard and Guardia Civil into Los Cristianos this morning. Emergency Services say that a dozen or so of the occupants appear to be minors, and that none on board needed to be transferred to medical centres for treatment.

Updated 8pm, 5/11: A patera with 122 on board has been escorted into Los Cristianos this afternoon. Emergency services say that just one needed to be transferred to a medical centre for treatment.

Updated 5 November: People often ask what happens to these migrants, and as I’ve said they are processed for asylum claims, paperwork checked, places of origin verified if possible … and those whose claims for refugee status are approved are allowed to start to integrate into society, those who are refused are returned to their original homes. In this respect, the Spanish Interior Ministry (like the UK Home Office) has confirmed today that flights will resume next Tuesday 10 November to Mauritania to deport migrants with irregular status (those without genuine asylum claims). The repatriation flights have been halted for most of this year because of the covid outbreak but have now been approved to restart: the first flight from here will be a stopover from Madrid with migrants on board, and it will collect those to be returned from here too.

Updated 4 November: A cayuco carrying 72 including ten or so children was picked up six miles south of Tenerife earlier this morning. Emergency services say that one of the occupants had died before reaching land and five others have been transferred to hospital in serious conditions including hypothermia, hypoglycemia, and one with a hand injury.  

Updated 3 November: A patera with arrived under its own steam around 11am this morning at Las Galletas harbour. Emergency services say that there were 17 on board, including some children, and one of the occupants of the craft needed to be transferred to Candelaria Hospital with hypoglycemia. As with all other craft, the healthy occupants are in police custody with their paperwork and/or claims for asylum being processed within the established legal framework.

Updated 2 November: Three cayucos and one patera with some 280 on board in total have been located south of the Canaries today. One with 57 on board was spotted just after lunchtime near La Tejita in El Médano while the other two arrived at Gran Canaria – one with 100 or so on board and the other with 68, one of whom had died. The La Tejita cayuco was escorted to Los Cristianos by the Coastguard and none have needed to be taken to medical centres for severe conditions.

Updated 31 October: The first cayuco to arrive for a few days arrived at Los Cristianos this morning after being spotted off the El Médano coast around 6am (photo above). There had been at least 82 on board including 3 women and 4 children, but one occupant died before reaching dry land. Various others were in dire need of medical assistance and the 112 Control Room says that two adults and one of the children had been transferred so far to a medical centre suffering from dehydration and burns (unclarified, possibly from a motor or small fire, or from sun or salt).

Original post 28 October: It’s nearly 15 years or so since I last had a post with this title, and 2006 was a big year for arrivals of what I call boats of hope, the cayucos (large) and pateras (smaller) that bring migrants from Africa to the Canaries. They come from various countries, often trafficked by people who charge thousands for their “services”. The payment is often gathered with enormous difficulty by family left behind, or provided as a “loan” to be repaid from wages sent back from the hoped-for new life; if this money doesn’t materialise then the migrant is in serious difficulty, often physically so, and the family has to deal with even worse poverty and danger in the migrant’s original home.

These people traffickers are not philanthropists but gangsters who use routes until they’re closed down. The respite these islands have experienced since 2006 is the result of the policing of the sea route forcing a switch to one from north Africa across the Mediterranean, particularly to Italy’s Lampedusa, a small island near Malta that’s actually part of Sicily politically. Now that that route’s policed, and with huge political tension about Mediterranean crossings generally, and with the land route through the Balkans now worse than nightmarish, the Canarian route is clearly back in fashion.

These crossings aren’t going to stop by one route or another. While global inequality is such as it is, the poor, disadvantaged, and exploited will try to get their fair share of planetary wealth. People complain about the effect on the economy or their holiday but to the desperate people in these boats the very idea of an economy or a holiday is as distant as Kim Kardashian is from ordinary people, she enjoying her birthday amidst a pandemic by hiring a private island for her innermost circle and playing at “pretending life’s normal” while real normal people are visiting foodbanks or wondering how to pay the bills at the end of the month.

So, these boats cause problems, obviously. Naturally they are an inconvenience, no-one denies they cause logistical problems in housing and security, everyone accepts they are “bad for our image” … but taking the covid pandemic as an example, we have to accept that there are times when natural catastrophes overtake our personal lives. For those who don’t “believe” in covid, we can take a Teide eruption as an example … assuming the volcano’s not dismissed as a hoax too. Such disastrous events cause inconvenience, logistical problems, and are bad for our image, but are accepted as inevitable. This is no different while economic and political solutions fail to be adopted, and trying to stop the migrations is like trying to stop a tidal wave with a sieve. One day the route will switch again, but until then I’ll keep track of the arrivals at Tenerife and some of the more newsworthy arrivals at the other islands in this thread.

So far in 2020, then, the Canaries have received just over 11,000 migrants compared with 2006 when just over 30,000 arrived. Some 5,000 of this year’s arrivals have reached here this month alone. Canarian President Ángel Torres is calling for “immediate help” from the national Government for the overcrowded emergency accommodation hastily equipped at Arguineguín harbour in Gran Canaria, the point presently under most pressure in these islands. Here in Tenerife, all official accommodation is full and the human overflow is now being housed in hotels, apartment complexes, including in the south, under arrangements made in coordination between local authorities, island Cabildos and the regional Government. Nonetheless, today is the first day in a month that we don’t have any arrivals. So far.


  1. Interesting comments above about the large number of immigrants arriving which is obliviously creating a serious problem for the island’s resources in the present time. We can’t imagine anyone leaving their home country unless they are desperate since our recent move and downsize to 3/4 miles away created mixed feelings but then we did not risk our lives in a boat!
    Finally M is right with her Brexit/ immigrant assumption as many of our age we spoke to at the time expressed the erroneous view that by leaving the EU immigration to the UK would cease and those present would be sent home!

  2. That SHOULD be Lonely….. or possibly Loony…. you judge.

  3. How strange is this… was just ‘Wandering Loney As A Cloud’ through my librarararary and what caught my eye? “Three Men In A Boat”…. I must re-read it. Last time I did, I must have still been a teen. (51 years past!)
    I don’t recall them asking for asylum anywhere along the Thames, but no doubt, there is a version updated for current proclivities…

  4. Perhaps a few Masai on board? Those buggers are 8’ tall… they’d count for two each.

    1. Author

      Probably the 82 were in one boat, there’s an unofficial report of seven in a boat so that could well be the other brought into Tenerife.

  5. Afternoon Ladyship!! You been at the Sacramental Wine again? 😂
    “Two boats with 89 on board, (80 men, 1 woman and a baby)…..”
    seriously though….. I’m amazed they’re still risking it in the “Winter”…. I hate to think how many we’re missing in these leaky old boats!

    1. Author

      oh bugger! That was the official figs, I’ll have to check if they’ve updated!

  6. Ray. Yes….. I thought afterwards I should have pointed out that I don’t exactly keep in contact wit ALL of them…😂

  7. Blimey Jon, 17,000,000 acquaintances is good going. Well done you 🙂

  8. Mencey, at the time when Brexit was first mooted, I believed the right thing would be to vote for leaving. I came that conclusion after looking very carefully at the driving force behind the EU, Germany. It seemed to me that there was a very clever “WW3” going on using a system of federalisation which, if successful, would eventually form a bloc big enough to challenge the then current world.
    Looking back a few years later, I’m not sure if I was right or wrong, or quite possibly a lunatic! 😜

  9. Oh dear. Ray, Ray, Ray….. I said “At least two of them….”. Be fair, 2 out of 17,000,000 isn’t exactly “All”.

    I am not personally a “European-ist”. I am a World-ist, believing that everyone could, if they really wished to, live harmoniously together. Unfortunately, until something much, much worse than Brexit, Covid or whatever the next big disaster is comes along, ‘tain’t happening..
    And until such time as reactions like yours are a thing of the past, the best we can hope for is a fragile peace.

  10. Totally agree Mency which is why I do not support comments suggesting the oppsite. But given that the racist card has been so widely used across all forms of media, particularly in the UK, I retain my right to challenge that falsehood (whenever it is possible for me to do so) if I believe that it is infered.

  11. I trust that you are not suggesting that all of those that support brexit are racist Jon.

    1. Author

      That would be an absurd generalisation. Some people certainly voted for Brexit because they carefully studied the workings of the EU and decided that the economic and political interests of the UK would be best served by leaving, and that’s fair enough because the EU is (just in my view) a mistaken political project with awful economic consequences. But I wonder how many voted for Brexit because they just did not like foreigners, or objected to foreign workers doing low-paid manual jobs which the British are not prepared to do. Given the superficial and uninformed level on which most people make political decisions, one can only guess.

  12. Thanks Janet. Let’s face it, we need racists. Coz if we didn’t have them, we’d never know we weren’t.
    I have a few rabid ones as acquaintances and, if I ever feel the need, I talk to them for a while and refresh my filters.
    At least two of them are in for a nasty shock on Jan 1st since they think the “Rosy Dawn” will happen and all the “Damn FuzzyWuzzies” will be gone. 😂

  13. Mencey, I guess I would have to admit to a racist view of the world in so far as I am allergic to Bloody Fool-ism and since that has to relate to my own upbringing and life experiences, I have to accept that my own view will never mirror that of another soul.
    My own world view is along the lines of if you’re friendly, then I’m friendly. If you’re an ass, I’m a disappearing dust cloud on your horizon.
    Because someone dresses differently, eats that “Filthy Foreign Muck” or speaks another language, I don’t see that as an issue.
    If you worship someone/thing, that’s equally fine as long as you don’t feel that I should do so too. I’m happy to let you believe in him/her/it and to do whatever makes you feel a little happier in your daily grind.
    If you are burnt black by the sun, yellow from too much spice or pale as only an arctic sun can make you, good luck. I will assume that all the bits that you need to function are where mine are too.
    Migration has been going on since before the dinosaurs went meteor-spotting and forgot to duck. It will continue long after I am dust again.
    Why anyone should feel that they have any more right to a decent existence than another, puzzles me beyond comprehension. This is where wars come from. “I’ve got more/better/bigger than you and I want to keep it that way” eventually leads to “I’m going to kill you”.
    Until we can see past that…… Racism is the game we will, as nations and individuals, play.

    1. Author

      Love that, Jon.

  14. Trevor White – I’ll call you racist but I join you in the sentiment. I fear we might invoke the dislike of many here but we don’t care do we?

    1. Author

      To be honest, I find it rather difficult to form an opinion about racism because I don’t think there is a person who can genuinely claim they are completely non-racist. It is not a black and white issue (pause for laughter). Everybody has prejudices and preconceived notions of how society should operate. I personally find it difficult to deal with people who have different social and personal priorities. If such a person is a white English male, that just amounts to a difference of opinion or a class issue. If that person is, say, a Muslim, I say that it is (in my case) still just a difference of opinion, but others would call me racist. The term these days is used for any criticism of anybody from a different culture, so that when I object strongly to the outrageous political behaviour of Israel, they decide to classify the criticism as antisemitic. So their abuse of language defines me as a racist, which is absurd. Similarly, if I were to suggest that men and women were in some indefinable way different, I would be instantly labelled as a male chauvinist pig, despite expressing no opinion about the superiority of either sex. And no, I’m not going to use that stupid American distortion of the word “gender”, even if somebody is ignorant enough to call me racist because I criticise Americans. Language has evolved over the past fifty years to make everybody guilty of some kind of-ism just because they dare to say they don’t like something, and present culture is full of the virtue-signalling offenderati prepared to be offended even on behalf of somebody else. So there.

  15. Call me a racist if you want but why in these times does anyone not understand that at the moment all borders should be sacred. If i arrived here from the UK with no passport and no proof of income, i would be deported immediately. I find that the moment anyone mentions this fact we are immediately labelled as racist. Tenerife has enough problems supporting its own people so why should they just turn up here and expect to be treated as a special case. Of course i have sympathy with them in the fact that they want a better life, but don’t we all.

    1. Author

      None of your words are racist as such, naturally, but there is an element of systemic racism in the sentiment. All borders should be sacred, people say, but then create merry hell when Spain introduces a virus test to cross theirs, or the UK introduces quarantine for anyone crossing theirs. So only crossing borders in some circumstances then, and that will be when someone’s coming without a passport. But that’s a false lead, because you wouldn’t be allowed to leave the country without your passport. You would have to go to a working airport with an actual valid document to be allowed out of your own country, let alone into someone else’s.

      Imagine your passport was destroyed by the thugs from the council in the next county who blew up the runway of your airport and put a cordon around your town to stop you getting to any other one. Or imagine you’re gay or the wrong religion and aren’t allowed a passport. Imagine your family is imprisoned because you’ve been writing something the thugs don’t like and who’ve told you your family will only be released and safe if you leave the country … but they hate you so much they’ll make sure you can’t do that. Imagine your family starving with no way out of your area because there’s a civil war and the neighbouring country has taken the side of the other side of town. Imagine you are in a situation where you could leave, but where there’s no functioning bureaucracy to provide you with a passport, or run an air industry.

      It’s all very well saying “why don’t they come in the normal way” but saying that exposes complete ignorance of the circumstances of many of these immigrants who cannot leave a different way. And to those who would reply “well let them stay where they are then”, I say Covid, and Quarantine, and PCR … if your views only work if you’re “one of us” who is actually physically and practically able to come in the same way as “one of us”, then that is, genuinely, systemic racism. Whatever anyone might think of the views they hold.

  16. Some info for those who don’t know where the tented “city” will be sited.
    La Esperanza, Tenerife

    A heavenly place in the north.
    “My favourite heavenly place in the world” is how rock guitarist Brian May – he of Queen fame – describes La Esperanza.

    Some seven kilometres south west of La Laguna, La Esperanza marks the beginning of the island’s Cordilla Dorsal ridge.

    La Esperanza is the gateway to the largest forest of the island – Bosque de la Esperanza, with its native pines and eucalyptus, which soar up to a height of 40 metres.

    1. Author

      No, near La Esperanza, as I said. It will be in Las Raices, in an old military site associated with General Franco in his day and used as military barracks, in fact recently ceded temporarily by the Ministry of Defence for this purpose. This is a military installation not a beauty spot. It’s also the area generally where Tenerife 2 prison is … it’s very beautiful around there but these are specific and existing installations for accommodating people, whether army, prisoners or immigrants. No need to present the move as some sort of attack on nature or beauty spots.

  17. I am confused. How on earth did 200 people get from Gran Canaria to Tenerife with no paperwork? Who transported them? 200 is not exactly a small number. Someone with some “clout” is organising all this to put pressure on the authorities. Pressure is needed, sure, but these are people, not pawns on a chess board to be shifted about in this way, no matter how desperate the situation is with the number of arriving migrants

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