Traffickers have switched routes, moving their human cargo along the dangerous route between western Africa to the Canary Islands in the Atlantic instead of across the Mediterranean to the southern coast of the country’s mainland. So far this year, there has been a 520% rise in migrant arrivals to the Canary Islands compared with the same period in 2019, with 3,448 migrants reaching the seven islands up until August 15, according to the Spanish government figures. raffickers have lowered their prices from around $2,377 to about $951. The boats depart not only from Morocco and Mauritania, the two nations closest to the archipelago, but also from Senegal and Gambia, over 1,000 kilometers further south. “It is the grim toll which the sea takes. This is a very dangerous route,” Maria Greco, of the migrant rights group Entre Mares, told VOA in an interview. But some arrivals have originated from as far away as South Sudan and the Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean, she added. The change in routes owes nothing to the way the COVID-19 pandemic has forced countries to close their borders and is due more to international politics, says Ms. Greco. She believes governments play a “macabre game” by influencing how the traffickers work.
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