Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya was in Senegal on Sunday as part of the Spanish government’s diplomatic response to the steady built-up of migrant arrivals to the Canary Islands from West African countries.
González Laya met with Senegalese President Macky Sall to discuss migration and border cooperation between Spain, the European Union and Senegal.
The country has become a major point of migrant departures even though it is around 950 miles (1,500 kilometers) away.
More than 18,000 people fleeing poverty, violence or other circumstances at home have arrived in the islands this year, a 1,000% increase from the same period in 2019, and over 500 have died in the attempt.
Around half of those arrivals and most of the deaths have been in the past 30 days, a spike that has strained resources on the Canary Islands.
Laya and her Senegalese counterpart Aïssata Tall Sall signed an agreement regarding social security that would enable Spanish citizens in Senegal and Senegalese citizens in Spain to continue contributing to their nation’s own social security despite being abroad.
The measure is intended to facilitate the voluntary return of Senegalese migrants in Spain.