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Last Updated: Friday, 19 May 2006, 23:34 GMT 00:34 UK
Spain in migrant diplomacy drive
Boat of migrants arrives on Canary Islands
This year alone 7,000 people have reached the Canary Islands
Spain has announced a three-year diplomatic offensive in West Africa to try to stem the flow of African migrants to Europe.

Thousands of migrants each year make the hazardous sea crossing to the Canary Islands or Spanish mainland.

Spain will base a diplomatic team in Senegal to try to persuade six nations to accept deported migrants.

Madrid on Friday also asked the European Union for more help in dealing with the migrants.

Stepping-stone

This year alone 7,000 people have reached the Canary Islands - five times more than in the first five months of last year.

But many Africans also drown in their attempts to reach Spanish territory, which they see as a stepping-stone to a better life in Europe.

Most of the immigrants are from Central and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Spain has stepped up air and sea patrols.

The European Parliament is sending a delegation to the Canary Islands early in June to examine the conditions in which the immigrants are being kept and the problems caused by illegal immigration.


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