«I had never experienced a situation like this. I had never seen that lighthouse with light before,” says a hotelier who works on the small promenade of the port of La Restingasouth of the island of The iron. These days, night after night, it is lit to guide the people who come in the canoes, who subsequently stay on the island until they are transferred to Tenerife. «The medical centers are saturated, as is normal, and the people who live here cannot go to them. “They can’t leave us abandoned.”
The arrival of cayucos to this Canary Island – 11,154 inhabitants – does not stop. On Tuesday four did so, on Wednesday five, on Thursday one and yesterday they managed to disembark another six in a frenetic day of activity in the port. In just 24 hours, more than 600 people arrived in Spain after spending several days sailing with the food, water and fuel they had been able to gather, without any type of guarantee and with the constant uncertainty of not knowing if they would make it to land. . When they do, scenes of all kinds are witnessed: exhaustion, relief, and also joy. Enter a country European Union It is a decisive event that will forever change the lives of these people.
El Hierro, the westernmost island of the Canary archipelago, does not have the logistical capacity to deal with such a volume of arrivals. In the port, mobile toilets have not even been installed for these people to relieve themselves after several days (on average, between six and seven) of crossing. After being treated at the port by members of the Canary Emergency Servicethe Red Cross and the Civil Guardare transferred by bus to the two places set up for them to stay temporarily: a worn-out sports center in the municipality of Pinewood and a primitive monastery on the other side of the island, in Borderwhich is currently being rehabilitated and conditioned with the prospect of receiving more migrants in the coming weeks.
It is here where they wait, guarded by the Civil Guard (who does not allow journalists to interact with them, despite the obvious willingness shown by some to want to do so) until they are transferred to Tenerife, a process that has been expedited in recent days. and that, as a general rule, it does not take too long, since the island cannot afford the presence of so many people, especially taking into account that this flow of arrivals is not expected to stop in the coming weeks, given the situation politics in the Sahel.
In the last two days, about 700 people have left El Hierro, heading to Tenerife. Regarding the unaccompanied minors who arrive in the cayucos, the Quorum Associationwho has housed and cared for them in the student residences on the island. Omarone of them, comes from Gambia, and while he waited with a dozen colleagues at the Puerto de la Estaca port to be transferred to Tenerife, he attended to THE WORLD for a few moments: «I’ve been here three weeks. “I was on the boat for four days,” she said in more than acceptable English given the circumstances. «I am happy to be in Spain. In my country, the situation is much worse.