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More than 200 migrants stuck in Gran Canaria dockside camp

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GRAN CANARIA, Spain (Reuters) - Spain’s coast guard rescued three boatloads of migrants from waters off Gran Canaria on Wednesday, bringing them ashore to join another 150 people forced to camp on the dockside as officials struggle to cope with a months-long migratory surge.

The latest group of 58 North African men were plucked from three small boats drifting around 29 km (18 miles) to the south of the island and appeared to be in good health, the coast guard said.

Upon arrival, they were ushered ashore by health officials in white coveralls, goggles and respirators.

With migrant reception centres across the archipelago stretched to capacity, more than 200 people from across Africa, including two women, are now stuck in the makeshift camp in Gran Canaria’s Arguineguin port.

Some of them queued up to receive drinks, snacks and hand sanitizer from volunteers, while others sprawled out on blankets on the concrete floor.

Asked what the government’s plan for the migrants was, a spokeswoman responded: “We’re working on it,” without providing further details.

Although seaborne migration to Spain is down nearly 27% this year, arrivals to the Canaries have surged five-fold to 3,448, interior-ministry data shows, putting a strain on local authorities.

Analysts have suggested that beefed-up security in the Mediterranean is pushing more people to risk the perilous crossing to the Canaries, located around 60 miles to the west of Morocco’s Atlantic Coast.

Reporting by Borja Suarez in Gran Canaria; Writing by Nathan Allen; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Matthew Lewis