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Tensions rise over housing of migrants on Spanish islands

The mayor of a town hosting many of the Africans arriving in increasing numbers on Spain’s Canary Islands pressed the Spanish government Thursday to move into state facilities thousands of migrants and asylum seekers currently lodged in hotels.

More than 20,000 West Africans and Moroccans have reached the Atlantic Ocean archipelago by boat or been rescued at sea so far this year, up from 1,500 in the same period of 2019. Roughly half came in November alone.

Onalia Bueno, the mayor of Mogán on Gran Canaria island told journalists that the 10 hotels in her area currently housing 3,471 migrants, including unaccompanied minors, should be freed up by the end of December when the contract with the central government to house migrants expires.

Bueno has threatened to fine the hotels if they continue to rent out rooms to the Spanish government after December 31.

The government says the hotels are an adequate transitional solution given the plunge in tourism caused by the coronavirus pandemic.