Spain is planning to set up temporary migrant reception centres for 7,000 people on the Canary Islands, as the number of migrants taking boat journeys from North and West Africa to the Atlantic Ocean archipelago has risen sharply this year.
The centres will be built in just a few weeks, promised Migration Minister Jose Luis Escriva on Friday during a visit to Las Palmas on Gran Canaria. They will be erected on land or buildings belonging to the Defence Ministry on Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Fuerteventura.
Work on "sturdy centres" for 7,000 migrants will also be carried out, said Escriva. Transport Minister Jose Luis Abalos, who also visited Gran Canaria, promised more funding for the maritime rescue services.
More than 18,000 people have arrived in the Canary Islands from Africa so far this year. Roughly 5,500 of them are currently staying in hotels, which have more rooms than normal available due to the pandemic.
Emergency services overwhelmed
Regional politicians accuse the central government of abandoning the Canaries, with police and emergency services on the islands overwhelmed.
Madrid meanwhile refuses to bring the migrants to the mainland, saying Spain does not want to convey the message that the Canary Islands can serve as a springboard into Europe at large.
With few exceptions, Madrid is planning to repatriate most of the people arriving in the Canary Islands, reported El Mundo newspaper.