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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 September 2007, 08:42 GMT 09:42 UK
Spain begins anti-migration ads
Man in ad, apparently drowned
The ads show disturbing images of apparently drowned migrants

The Spanish government has begun airing emotional television adverts across West Africa as part of its attempts to combat illegal immigration.

The $1.4m media campaign is to run for six weeks and has begun in Senegal.

The aim of the campaign is to discourage potential migrants from attempting the dangerous 12-day voyage by boat to the Canary Islands.

"My son left ... and we haven't heard from him in eight months," a distraught Senegalese woman says in one advert.

It then cuts to a boy lying face down on the rocks, apparently drowned.

"You already know how this story ends," continues Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour.

"Thousands of destroyed families. Don't risk your life for nothing. You are the future of Africa."

In the past two years Spain has signed co-operation and repatriation agreements with Algeria, Morocco, Senegal, Mauritania, Gambia, Guinea, Mali and Ghana.

Repatriation, together with tougher policing, including European naval patrols, have led to a sharp fall in arrivals in the Canary Islands this year.

Between January and August 6,659 Africans landed in the Canaries, a 66% decrease from the same period last year.

But 2006 was a record year for the immigrant boats, fishing canoes known as cayucos.

Officials list 31,678 people reaching the Canaries, against 4,767 in 2005.

An estimated 6,000 died of drowning, thirst or starvation - although no-one has any idea of exactly how many because no tally is kept of the numbers who set out.

This month, 10 people drowned off Gran Canaria when a boat struck rocks close to shore.

In July, about 50 people drowned when their boat capsized.

Spain's Socialist government has encouraged legal migration and foreigners now make up about a tenth of the overall population, but has ruled out any repetition of the 2005 amnesty which allowed some 600,000 illegals to stay.

Map showing main migration routes

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