The government of Canary Islands estimates that around 1,000 migrants have died in the Atlantic Ocean this year while trying to reach the Spanish islands, a government adviser said on Thursday.
The estimated deaths in 2022 are already nearing the total figures from 2021, when 1,109 people lost their lives on the journey from Western Africa to the Spanish islands, according to the UN group Missing Migrants.
“We haven’t even gone through the toughest time of year yet,” Txema Santana told Spanish daily El Pais.
Last year, around 80% of all migrant arrivals occurred between September and November.
In a press conference this week, Canary Islands government spokesperson Julio Perez said the situation is “highly concerning.”
From January to August, 10,637 migrants had successfully made it to the Canary Islands, up 14% from the same period in 2021, according to Spain’s Interior Ministry.
However, the total number of incoming boats has dropped 3.3%.
This points to a deterioration of the migrants’ transport conditions.
Small boats called cayucos have practically disappeared from the migration route. Now, migrants most commonly travel on packed rubber dinghies, which are even more dangerous.
More people are also opting to travel shorter distances, with 53% of arrivals traveling from Morocco and the north of Western Sahara to the islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. Longer routes leaving from Mauritania, Senegal and the city of Dakhla are waning in popularity, according to Red Cross figures seen by the Spanish news agency EFE.
Most migrants are from Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Mali, Senegal and the Ivory Coast.
Nearly one-third of the migrants are women, said Santana.