Illegal migrants begin their dangerous journey to the Canary Islands from Africa’s Sahara

(Photo by STA/XINHUA)

by A.P.

Although it is currently the most dangerous migration route, in recent months, more and more people have set out to reach Spain’s Canary Islands. The 500-kilometer-long journey from Africa to the Canary Islands begins in the Sahara, where human smugglers are hiding boats long the coast to evade security services, according to Czech news portal

The Czech news portal cites a report from the Associated Press involving an AP reporter and photographer waiting until after dark to join people smugglers in Dakhla, Western Sahara, as they drove inland from the busy port. The driver, followed by a vehicle with a fixer, passes a police checkpoint with no problems. At a certain point, he turns off the highway into a dark, seemingly endless desert.

The smuggler only briefly checks the coordinates on his mobile phone. Obviously, this is not the first time he has been making this journey. In the middle of the dunes, under a star-strewn sky, there is a white tent from which a young man involved in the business of building boats for people smuggling climbs out. He has been building a boat here for several days while remaining hidden from security forces. He charges 20,000 dirhams (about €1,649) for per boat.

The boat lie hidden under the sand, ready to make the journey west. The men jump out of the cars and start digging. In a few minutes, they uncover a wooden boat with a blue-painted keel that can carry 20 to 30 people. The men quickly pull the boat to the roof of the jeep and prepare to return.