October 28, 2020

CEAR criticizes what happened in the Canary Islands: “It is not conceivable to delay a rescue”


The Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid (CEAR) has criticized this Monday the situation that occurred this Sunday during the assistance on the high seas to the last canoe detected in the vicinity of Gran Canaria, because it considers that “it is not conceivable” to delay the rescue of 41 people.

“It is not conceivable to delay the rescue, especially when the approach operation, with the risks that it entails, was already done,” says this NGO, referring to the conversation in which the skipper of a Maritime Rescue vessel is heard, the Salvamar Menkalinan, protest when he is ordered by radio to abort the rescue of the cayuco, which he already had at his side, because it had been decided that the Civil Guard would pick up that group of immigrants.

“The existence of the Single Command as a strategy to manage the rescues of migrants adrift at sea cannot replace, in any case, the bodies specialized in civil rescue, such as Maritime Rescue,” CEAR said in a statement.

In this case, Salvamar Menkalinan had to abandon the operation and wait for the Río Segura Civil Guard patrol boat to arrive in the area, which had been instructed to pick up the immigrants and transfer them to Tenerife.

CEAR admits that it is possible that, in order to manage the reception capacity, the occupants of a patera or a canoe may be transferred to an island other than the one closest to the rescue point.

But it demands that this be done “after landing, using the safest environment and conditions.”

“Other alternatives, such as rescue and transfer by Civil Guard patrol boats, could put more people at risk and distort the functions of the different public bodies,” he argues.

CEAR also draws attention to the situation that continues to occur in the port of Arguineguín (Gran Canaria), where dozens of immigrants who arrived in recent days continue to spend the night waiting to pass the coronavirus control tests and to be assigned another host resource.

In his opinion, since it is the port “closest to the majority of rescues on the Canary Route, it should be left free from other types of procedures, such as affiliation and medical tests, so that its use is exclusively for disembarkation”.

“This demand coincides with that of the local, island and regional authorities. In addition, the conditions in which people are spending the night on the dock, on the ground, are unworthy of a reception and a humane reception,” he denounces.

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