Three migrants who had arrived at the Canary Islands from Nigeria will have to return home under stowaway laws, a police spokesperson has said. The men were taken to the hospital following their arrival.
Three men ave arrived in the Canary Islands after an 11-day journey on top of the rudder of a tanker, Spanish sea rescue services said.
A police spokesman told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday that the migrants should be returned home under stowaway laws.
What do we know about the ship?
The Alithini II tanker arrived in Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canaria after departing from Lagos in Nigeria on November 17, according to Marine Traffic. The ship was sailing under a Maltese flag.
A Canarian police spokesperson said it was up to the ship’s operator to provide the men with temporary accommodation and bring them back to Nigeria as soon as possible.
The three men were immediately taken to the hospital following their arrival and were being treated for moderate dehydration and hypothermia. There was only about half a meter (20 inches) between their feet and the water, according to a photo seen by the EFE news agency.
Helena Maleno, director of the Walking Borders migrants NGO, told Reuters that the migrants may be able to remain in Spain if they claim asylum.
“On several previous occasions, stowaways were able to remain in Spain with political asylum,” Maleno said.
Tens of thousands of arrivals every year
This is not the first time people have risked their lives sneaking aboard ships to reach Spain. In 2020, a 14-year-old boy reached Spain from Lagos after a journey lasting two weeks, also atop a ship’s rudder, and another boat carried three men atop its rudder.
Thousands of migrants and refugees from North and West Africa have reached Spain in recent years. According to figures from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) the Canary Islands received over half of almost 30,000 arrivals so far in 2022.
In 2021, over 1,500 people died or were missing at sea off of the coast or en route to Spain, according to the UNHCR.
The Canary Islands lie about 100 kilometers away from the African mainland at the closest point.
(Reuters, AP, dpa, Efe)