In 2020, an unprecedented 23,000 migrants made the seaborne journey from northwestern Africa to the Canary Islands. However, in recent months, the Spanish archipelago has become a dead end, with migrants finding themselves stuck in overcrowded centres in which uncertainty and lack of support have generated tensions. In mid-April, several migrants contacted our editorial staff to testify.

In response to amounts of migrant arrivals unseen since 2006, the Spanish government introduced its ‘Canary Plan’ in November 2020 with the objective of creating 7,000 migrant shelters on the islands of Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Tenerife.

However, according to a report by Amnesty International Spain published on April 23 2021, the living conditions on the archipelago remain worrying and even “shameful” in some centres. 

3⃣: Hombres, mujeres y niños/as permanecen en condiciones deleznables en La Nave del Queso: sin mínimas medidas de higiene, sin libertad, hacinados/as, en unas circunstancias que podrían considerarse de infrahumanas. #AcogidaDigna https://t.co/jxEJ38D58o

— Amnistía Internacional España (@amnistiaespana) April 23, 2021

‘I have applied for asylum but I still have no news about the outcome’Ahmed (not his real name) is a Guinean asylum seeker who arrived in the Canary Islands on 16 October 2020. He spent several months in a hotel before being transferred to the El Matorral camp on the island of Fuerteventura in February. The centre, which can hold up to 648 people, was opened as part of the ‘Canary Plan’ by the Red Cross. 

Photo prise dans le campement d’El Matorral. Envoyée à la rédaction des Observateurs de France 24 en avril. © DR

{{ scope.counterText }}

{{ scope.legend }}

© {{ scope.credits }}

{{ scope.counterText }}

{{ scope.legend }}

© {{ scope.credits }}

Ahmed sent us some photos from inside the camp in mid-April.

We are crammed inside our tents. At night, it’s cold. To eat, we have to queue for almost an hour to get a tiny portion of food. We have tried to get information by asking questions like, ‘When are we going to get out of here?’ and ‘Why have some people already left?’. I have applied for asylum, but I have no news about my case. There have already been clashes between sub-Saharans and Moroccans because of the queues for food. On March 15, about 30 of us organised a march to ask for help and to leave this camp.