On the occasion of a fact-finding mission to a 'retention centre' for immigrants on the Canary Islands today, which is part of the Greens/EFA study days, UK Green MEP and rapporteur for the European Parliament report on the immigration situation in the Canary Islands Jean Lambert stated:
"The Spanish authorities' handling of the immigration situation in the Canary Islands has been commendable. Unlike some previous cases, when arriving migrants were treated as criminals, there is a willingness to understand and take into account the reasons prompting people to take such massive risks to enter Europe. The Spanish government has recognised that it is a humanitarian crisis and has given NGOs access to the so-called 'retention centres'.
"Clearly, there are also some improvements to be made but this requires resources. The insufficient nature of the EU response is unacceptable. Commitments to the Frontex mission were meagre and the Spanish government has not received the support it needed.
"There is a growing acceptance of the need to address the reasons why so many people are willing to run what is an extremely precarious gauntlet to arrive in Europe. The lack of a coherent EU immigration policy leaves migrants with limited alternatives to the hazardous journey by cayuco. There is now a fall-off in the numbers arriving on the Canary Islands but past experience has shown that the migratory flows will merely shift. Without coherent EU action on immigration and development, African migrants will find another entry point next year and EU leaders meeting in Lahti tomorrow should recognise this."
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Notes to editors:
Jean Lambert: In October 2005 Jean was named MEP 2005 for Justice and Human Rights. Jean was first elected Green Party Member of the European Parliament for London in the 1999 European elections. She was re-elected in 2004. She is one of nine MEPs representing London and one of two UK Green representatives in the European Parliament.