DAKAR, Senegal (AP) The Spanish Foreign Minister met with the Senegalese president in the West African capital on Sunday to discuss the sudden rise of Senegalese migrants trying to reach the Canary Islands by boat.
Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzlez Laya met with President Macky Sall in Dakar to discuss migration and border co-operation between Spain, the European Union and Senegal. The country has become a major point of departure for migrants even though it is about 950 miles (1,500 kilometers) away.
More than 18,000 people fleeing poverty, violence or other home circumstances have arrived in the Canary Islands of Spain this year, a 1,000% increase from the same period in 2019, and over 500 have died in the effort. About half of those arrivals and most deaths have been in the last 30 days, an increase that has strained resources in the archipelago.
COVID is destroying African economies, as it has also had a huge impact on European economies, we knew that one of the consequences of this pandemic would be an increase in migration, Gonzlez Laya told reporters after the meeting.
The Spanish minister dismissed allegations of poor management and preparation by Spain in handling migrant arrivals, resulting in thousands of them sleeping under tents at Arguineguin’s dock on the island of Gran Canaria for days, sometimes weeks, in non-violent conditions. -sanitary.
Human rights groups have warned of the reopening of the Atlantic route to the Canary Islands since the end of 2019, when arrivals began to increase slowly.
It’s very hard to blame a government or say that a government is not prepared enough to get a very large amount (of people) in a very short period of time, she said.
Local rights groups in Senegal have protested the deaths of what they say are nearly 500 young people who died at sea in recent weeks trying to reach European soil.
The International Organization for Migration of Missing Persons project said it has only been able to confirm the death or disappearance of 160 Senegalese nationals so far this year, but acknowledges that their data may be incomplete due to the lack of of information collected on the migration route.
Moise Diar Diegane Sarr, secretary of state at the Foreign and Senegalese Foreign Ministry, said bilateral co-operation was discussed between the two countries. He attended the meeting between the Spanish Foreign Minister and his Senegalese counterpart Assata Tall Sall.
The issue of irregular migration is common, he said. We discussed this and would like to fight it together.
He said they discussed funding for projects that help return migrants and also that could help regulate the potential for irregular migration in the future. Sarr said they will work with Spain to enhance legal ways for Senegalese to work in Europe, including circular migration programs.
About 10% of Senegalese gross domestic product in 2019 came from remittances sent home by its citizens living and working abroad, mostly in Europe, according to the World Bank.
During her visit to Senegal, Gonzlez Laya said Spain was sending an additional patrol boat and a naval surveillance aircraft in addition to the two existing Spanish patrol boats and helicopter stationed in Senegal to help the country deal with migration.
They arrive after a dialogue with the Senegalese authorities, because in this matter, which is to help them control the exits of the countries, it is they who work hand in hand with us, she said.
AP journalist Renata Brito in Barcelona, Spain, contributed to this report.
Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
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