Spanish Balearic Islands see increase in migrant boat landings


In recent times, more migrant boats have arrived in Spain’s Balearic Islands compared to the normally busier route to the Canary Islands. This indicates that migration routes to Spain from Africa may be changing.

A large number of boats carrying migrants have landed on the Balearic Islands in recent days, highlighting a possible passage from the Atlantic Canary Islands route to the Western Mediterranean route to the south and southeast of Spain continental.

Between the end of last week and the start of this week, dozens of migrants arrived on the coasts of the Balearic Islands and southeastern Spain.

Spanish authorities said between Saturday and Monday they intercepted and assisted more than 500 people in the coastal areas of the Balearic Islands, including the islands of Ibiza and Formentera, as well as in the southern and southern regions. -est of Spain such as the provinces of Granada, Almería and Murcia. It is according to the EFE Press Agency.

According to the latest figures released by the United Nations Migration Agency, IOM, the number of sea arrivals to the Canary Islands via the Atlantic and to southwestern Spain via the western Mediterranean this year is similar with 10,307 and 10,600, respectively.

Map of the Spanish Belearic Islands and the Algerian Mediterranean Coast | Source: Google Maps

Different countries of origin

Unlike migrants arriving in the Canary Islands – many of whom are from sub-Saharan Africa – most of those arriving in the Balearic Islands say they were from countries in North Africa. In both places, most of the new arrivals are men.

In the western Mediterranean, most of the boats arriving are small and usually carry no more than 20 people. Boats arriving on one of the Canary Islands, on the other hand, often have 40 to 50 passengers which often include women and children.

Read more: “Every boat is in danger” – the rescue of migrants trying to reach the Canary Islands

According to EFE news agency, some of the boats that arrived in the south and south-east of Spain managed to reach the coast without the help of Spanish rescue teams.

Several local media reported that one of those who arrived was a boy, possibly a minor. After arriving in the coastal town of Carboneras on Saturday evening, he attempted to flee the Spanish authorities and climbed a cliff, from which he fell and died. Another person, who was with the victim, was rescued after sustaining several injuries.

As noted by migration experts consulted by EFE, the recent increase in the number of landings on the Balearic Islands and the south-eastern part of mainland Spain could be the result of some changes in surveillance at the usual points of departure of migrants, mainly in Morocco and Algeria.

“The routes do not disappear but change over time,” said Blanca Garcés, researcher at the Barcelona Center for International Affairs (CIDOB).

Increase of almost 50% compared to 2020

The latest official figures on documented migration released by the Spanish Interior Ministry (as of August 29) show that 20,491 people have arrived in Spain since the start of the year, almost twice as many compared to the same period in 2020. This year’s number includes 9,255 arrivals to the Canary Islands and 9,075 to the coasts of the Balearic Islands and mainland Spain.

These figures do not include the roughly 10,000 people who arrived in the Ceuta enclave in May within 48 hours, many of whom were later returned to Morocco or left on their own in the following days.

Canary Islands emergency services said they had helped more than 200 people since Monday afternoon. EFE reported that other boats had been sighted, including one with a dead body on board. According to the NGO Caminando Fronteras, more than 1,900 people have died on this road in the first six months of 2021. IOM, on the other hand, has recorded 516 deaths so far this year.

In the last four months of 2020 alone, nearly 20,000 African migrants have landed on the Canary Islands’ coasts, overwhelming authorities and arrival facilities.