Of the more than 40,000 immigrants who arrived in the Canary Islands from Cayuco last year, 5,500 were minors. This is a record number that continues to grow, causing social unrest and, above all, a humanitarian problem, as evidenced by the published evidence. Behind them is a figure that does not stop growing, as the January figures show: more than 7,200 immigrants arrived in the Canary Islands in a single month, of which 900 were minors. As a result, the Community currently protects 5,150 foreign children or adolescents in 70 shelters. This is an extreme situation, which cannot continue. The continued increase of these unaccompanied foreign minors and their precarious status not only highlights the inadequacy of the EU’s migration policies. They also reveal the losses presented by the management of Spain.
The stories with names and surnames tell about the unfortunate adventures that some of these minors have experienced in the process of distribution between different autonomous communities, which is not typical for a developed country that has violated the rights of children. All agreements have been signed. On the other hand, the lack of effective, agile management that characterizes the emergency situation we are experiencing contributes to increasing the social alarm taken advantage of by lovers of express returns and externalization of borders. Addressing the immigration issue requires a comprehensive approach. It is this sentiment that has led the EU to define a new strategy that combines the control of flows with human rights, labor needs and the search for a better future by those who migrate. In this context, the reception of minors requires special attention. With specific policies, adequate resources and empathy that prioritize their status as minors over their origins.
Its distribution throughout the territory must conform to transparent criteria, without reluctance or finesse in redirecting troops to other communities without support or control. With adequate resources so that the autonomous communities can serve them decently. The Canary Islands route is not the busiest at community level (according to Frontex, 68% of migrants arriving by sea into the EU in 2023 came via Italy). However, as far as Spain is concerned, it will remain the largest route of arrival, as long as Morocco controls the straits and the Alboran Sea and the situation in the Sahel continues to deteriorate. More management and planning is needed to deal with this situation. Strengthen Spain’s presence in Senegal and Mauritania and control mafias that deal with minors, especially girls. In the meantime, it is advisable to create a mechanism to relocate these minors to communities and get them in line with children’s rights. In this sense, the proposal of the Canary Islands Government to create a national organization for the protection of unaccompanied foreign minors to coordinate this distribution seems appropriate, although it would be better if the honest and active inter-regional coordination required by this type of resource does not, keeping in mind the magnitude of the challenge that will remain in the short and medium term.