Three migrants rescued in the Canary Islands after traveling for 11 days crouched over the rudder of a cargo ship must be sent back to their countries of origin under the law of clandestinity, a Spanish police spokesman told the news agency. Reuters this Tuesday (29).
In a photo released by the coastguard of the Iberian country on Twitter, the three migrants appear balanced, just above the waterline, on the rudder blade of the ship Alithini 2. With 183 meters, the vessel arrived in Las Palmas, in the Isles Canary Islands, after departing Lagos, Nigeria, on November 17, and sailing along the west coast of Africa, according to the Marine Traffic website.
After being removed from the vessel, they received medical treatment. According to the island’s emergency services and the Red Cross, the migrants had moderate dehydration and hypothermia – one of them was in a more serious condition and had to be taken to a hospital.
The incident opened a dispute between authorities. A spokesman for the Canary Islands police said it was up to the ship operator to look after the situation, providing refugees with temporary accommodation and taking responsibility for returning them to their countries of origin as quickly as possible.
For Helena Maleno, director of the NGO Walking Borders, migrants will be able to remain in the country if they apply for asylum. “On several occasions, illegal immigrants were able to remain in Spain with political asylum.”
The vessel Alithini 2, owned by Gardenia Shiptrade, is managed by the Astra Ship Administration, based in Greece, according to the Equasis ship database. The administrator did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
The Spanish territory of the Canary Islands is a popular gateway for migrants from Africa trying to reach Europe. The number of migrants irregularly arriving in the archipelago by sea dropped 17.6% to 14,875 in the first ten months of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021, according to the Ministry of the Interior.