Spain Sends Back African Migrants

BBC News, Jan. 22, 2007

Spain has sent several hundred African migrants back to Senegal from the Canary Islands, officials say.

Six planes flew them from the island of Tenerife to Saint-Louis in the African country’s north-west.

The migrants were among more than 30,000 Africans who landed in the Canaries in 2006 after dangerous sea journeys in open wooden boats.

Most of those on board were Senegalese, but others were said to be from Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali and Mauritania.

The repatriation came days after the first group of more than 70 Senegalese citizens to be granted Spanish work visas since restrictions were eased left for Spain.

‘Duped’

Commander Alexis Correa, a member of Spain’s national committee for managing the repatriated and displaced, told AFP news agency that 448 people were being sent back on Sunday.

The operation was a one-off, he added.

Some migrants reportedly complained that they had been duped into believing they were being flown to the Spanish mainland.

“When we took the plane, we were told we were going to Madrid or Barcelona. Now here we are back in Senegal,” one of the migrants told Senegalese radio, quoted by Reuters news agency.

More than 31,000 migrants arrived in the Canaries in 2006, more than six times as many as in 2005.

The Canaries is one of the most popular destinations for Africans trying to reach Europe to escape poverty.

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