May 23, 2024

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Three men survive an 11-day voyage from Nigeria to Spain at the helm of a ship

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Spain’s coast guard said on Monday that three men had survived an 11-day voyage perilously perched atop the rudder of an oil tanker en route from Nigeria to Spain’s Canary Islands, as Europe is experiencing the highest level of irregular migration in five years.

Straddling a narrow metal strip and exposed to the elements, the stowaways traveled aboard the Malta-flagged Alithini II, which departed Lagos on November 17, according to the ship-tracking website. marine traffic. The tanker arrived Monday evening in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, one of the Spanish Canary Islands off the coast of North Africa. The ports are approximately 3,000 miles away.

in picture subscriber By the Spanish Coast Guard on Twitter, the three men sat on the ship’s rudder splinter sticking out of the water, with their backs bent against the ship’s hull. A Coast Guard rescue boat picked up the men and brought them to the port of Las Palmas for treatment by health services, the Coast Guard said.

The survivors were from Nigeria, the Spanish government delegation in the Canary Islands The Associated Press. One of them is still hospitalized on Tuesday.

“The survival saga is beyond imagination,” says Txima Santana, immigration advisor for the authorities in the Canary Islands, wrote on Twitter. “It’s not the first and it won’t be the last. Stowaways don’t always have the same luck.”

The bailout comes amid tensions within the European Union over migration policy, as countries in southern Europe – France and Italy in particular The debate over who should take in the growing numbers of migrants arriving by sea.

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More than 165,000 irregular migrants, many of them asylum seekers, have arrived in Europe this year, the highest number since 2017, when 187,499 migrants were registered, according to the International Organization for Migration.

The stowaways’ journey is far from recent migration patterns to Europe. Charlotte Slenti, general secretary of the Danish Refugee Council, an aid agency that works in dozens of countries, said the bloc had seen an increase in arrivals over the past month. Recently, however, most asylum seekers have been arriving by land routes, through the Balkans and heading west through Europe.

Almost 30,000 migrants will arrive in Spain in 2022, a decrease compared to recent years, according to the data From the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. More than 14,000 of these landed on the shores of the Canary Islands, often on rickety and overcrowded boats, many of them inflatable and unsuitable for ocean travel. The crossing is fraught with danger – 1,153 people died or went missing along the way to the Canary Islands last year, UNHCR said.

“Overall, we see migrants and refugees continue to resort to perilous sea and overland journeys, reflecting the desperation and vulnerabilities they may face, as well as the lack of alternative, adequate and safer pathways,” said UNHCR spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo. In a letter Tuesday. “These include stowing away in airless ships or containers, sailing in leaky boats among others.”

It is rare, though not unprecedented, for asylum seekers to stow away on merchant ships. Sofia Hernandez, head of the Las Palmas Rescue Service Coordination Center, told the Associated Press that Spain’s coast guard has responded to six similar cases over the past two years. “It’s very dangerous,” she said of the flight at the helm. A 14-year-old, in the company of older migrants, made the journey from Nigeria at the helm in 2020, Spanish newspaper El Pais reports. mentioned.

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The coronavirus pandemic and resulting border closures have prompted asylum seekers and migrants to take more dangerous routes from Africa to Europe, with the help of smugglers, according to UNHCR.

“There has been a lot of effort in recent years to effectively control borders, which has significantly impeded access for people in need of protection and asylum,” Slenti said, adding that her organization has observed an increasing number of cases where European border authorities push asylum seekers back into countries. from which they came.

This year, Mantoux said, nearly 2,000 people have died on the sea routes of the Mediterranean and northwest Africa while trying to reach Europe.

What is needed is more state-led and better coordinated search and rescue efforts, predictable disembarkations in places of safety, rapid access to screening and asylum procedures to identify those who may need international protection, and the return – in safety and dignity – of those who do not. ,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said in a statement ahead of a meeting of EU interior ministers last week.

Ministers met in Brussels to discuss Action Plan For the Central Mediterranean, another major migration route into Europe. Part of this plan includes implementing a voluntary “Declaration of Solidarity” agreed in June regarding migrants arriving by sea in member states in the south, and distributing them elsewhere in Europe.

“We cannot continue to work by tackling one crisis at a time or one ship at a time,” Margaritis Schinas, vice president of the European Commission and responsible for coordinating the pact on migration and asylum in the bloc, told reporters. According to the German DW News.

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