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World News

Canary Islands hotels ask Spain, EU to act on migrant crisis

FILE PHOTO: Over two thousand migrants rest in the Arguineguin harbour, in the Spanish island of Gran Canaria, after being rescued by coast guards or reaching the island by their own means, in Arguineguin, Spain November 10, 2020. REUTERS/Borja Suarez/File Photo

MADRID (Reuters) - Canary Islands hoteliers called for action to tackle a resurgent migrant crisis by the Spanish government and the European Union, saying on Wednesday that they could not allocate more rooms to house people who arrive on rickety boats.

More than 15,400 people this year have braved the perilous Atlantic crossing from Africa to the Canaries, which lie around 100 km (60 miles) off Morocco’s west coast, 10 times more than in 2019.

Nearly 1,800 African migrants were stranded in a dockside camp on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria on Wednesday after a wave of arrivals overwhelmed local authorities’ capacity to house them, officials said. Others are being hosted in hotels on the archipelago.

“We have shown a lot of solidarity and we have preferred to help in a human way to avoid a (migration) drama like the ones we have seen in other European territories, but now we have to find other solutions,” said Tom Smulders, spokesman and vice-president of the Canaries’ FEHT hotel federation.

Smulders said that up to 10 tourism complexes in Gran Canaria hosting migrants could continue doing so for a couple more months but that the government and EU must find other solutions, such as using military facilities.

“We cannot allocate more tourism complexes (to this),” he told Reuters, adding that the archipelago cannot “become the reception centre for the whole of Europe.”

Reporting by Joan Faus; Additional reporting by Nathan Allen; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Catherine Evans

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