Another rescue ship arrives at the port of Arguineguín, on the island of Gran Canaria. It is not the first of the day. Nor will it be the last. More than 15,000 immigrants have arrived on these Spanish islands from the Atlantic since August. Moored at the dock, what remains of the boats in which they challenge the Atlantic to reach the southern gate of Europe.
Away from the view of the media, hundreds of immigrants receive humanitarian care, on a dock where not a square meter remains free.
This is the closest we can get to the Arguineguín pier, where hundreds of migrants arrive every day. They sleep in those white tents that are now overflowing. We have received information and testimonies that speak of people sleeping on the ground, covering themselves with blankets or cardboard to protect themselves from the sun. Up to 2,000 people have been trapped on the dock for days. The Government of Spain is now looking for new facilities to improve living conditions.
As an emergency solution, they are taken to hotels where they are tested for coronavirus and undergo quarantine. The island’s apartments and hotels host 4,000 migrants. But with one of the lowest Covid-19 rates in Europe, the tourism sector believes that the time has come to once again promote the Canary Islands as a safe holiday destination.
Tom Smulders, Vice President of the Canary Islands Hotel Federation, FEHT: “We have come to the rescue. Because there were many immigrants, homeless, without anything. But now it’s time to fill our houses with tourists again.”
The situation is generating tensions between the neighbors. Those who demand better conditions for migrants … and those who believe that the situation is already unsustainable. They believe the authorities are trying to hide the real situation on the pier.
Aaron Roda, a resident of Arguineguín: “The fact that it is not seen does not mean that it is not happening. The neighbors are here, they go out, and they can see the tragedy, the drama that we are living.”
Outside his hotel, Usama remembers the trip that brought him to Europe in search of opportunities.
Usama, Moroccan migrant:“I have looked at death. I have been at sea for 4 nights; the water entered the boat … I could not rest. We are looking for another life. I want to come to continue with my life.”
Meanwhile, at the Arguineguín dock, the Maritime Rescue boats continue to bring hundreds of immigrants. Loaded with dreams, saved from the nightmare. But soon, here, there will be no room for anyone.
Jaime Velázquez, Euronews, in Arguineguín, Canary Islands