Spanish police to return 3 Nigerian stowaways as NGO wants process halted
Three (3) migrants who were found in Spain’s Canary Islands after travelling from Nigeria presumably for 11 days while squatting on a petroleum tanker’s rudder will be sent back home in accordance with stowaway regulations, a Spanish police spokesman said on Tuesday.
In a photograph distributed on Twitter by the Spanish coast guard on Monday, the three stowaways are shown crouching on the rudder under the hull, just above the waterline of the Alithini II.
According to Marine Traffic, the 183-meter ship flying the Maltese flag arrived in Las Palmas in Gran Canaria after departing from Lagos in Nigeria on November 17 and travelling up the coast of West Africa.
The Red Cross received confirmation from the ship’s captain that the vessel had left Nigeria 11 days ago.
A representative for the Canary Islands police said it was up to the ship’s captain to look after stowaways, give them temporary housing, and send them back to where they came from as quickly as possible.
However, Helena Maleno, director of the non-governmental organization, Walking Borders, on Wednesday, said the migrants might be permitted to stay in Spain if they apply for asylum.
“We want to express our concern about what happened, particularly in the face of a possible scenario of hasty repatriations.
“On several previous occasions, stowaways were able to remain in Spain with political asylum,” Maleno said.
The migrants’ rights group called for their cases to be assessed individually and for the Spanish government to place them in its humanitarian program for migrants so they can recover from their voyage and potentially seek asylum.
The migrants were saved, according to the coast guard, at around 7 p.m. local time on Monday.
The Canary Islands emergency services and the Red Cross said that the stowaways were receiving treatment for mild dehydration and cold. One of the migrants needed to be transported to a separate hospital on the island because of their more acute condition.