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conecta europa conference canarias

Conecta Canarias-Europa Conference
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Radio Sintonia:

Astrid Pérez: "We cannot become a huge cemetery of people and illusions, nor eight island-prisons for migrants".

The President of the Parliament of the Canary Islands, Astrid Pérez, highlighted in her opening speech the first Conecta Canarias-Europa Conference, dedicated to migration, asylum and European cohesion policy, the importance of the Canary Islands "having more material and human resources", but also better coordination and a boost of cooperation with the State and the European Union to deal with the migratory phenomenon. "We are the southern border of Europe and the southern border of Spain. We need solidarity in the face of the current and future migratory challenge. We cannot become a huge cemetery of people and illusions, nor eight island-prisons for migrants," warned Astrid Pérez.

The President of the Chamber recalled that "the migration issue is, without a doubt, one of the most complex challenges facing the European agenda. And on its proper management depends, to a large extent, the credence of a European Union that needs, more than ever, the confidence of the citizens".

According to Astrid Pérez, "weare a vulnerable and weak border. Eight islands with no limit other than the Atlantic Ocean. Our reality prevents us from thinking of control systems such as those existing on continental borders. However, it is necessary that this vulnerability be reduced, providing our islands with adequate technical and personal means so that this great human drama does not continue to grow".

In her speech, Astrid Pérez stressed that "so far in 2023, more than 14,300 migrants have arrived in the Canary Islands, which represents an increase of about 25% compared to 2022. This archipelago now has more than 2,500 unaccompanied minors in the hospital, an increase of 60% compared to the first 8 months of last year. Alarming data that, far from being reduced, are increasing year after year."

Regarding the EU Cohesion Policy, Astrid Pérez added that "with 392,000 million euros for the period 2021-2027, cohesion policy continues to be the main investment to achieve economic, social and territorial balance in all regions of the countries of the European Union. Also, and especially, in outermost regions such as the Canary Islands".

After the intervention of Astrid Pérez, the journalist and Canary Islands Prize for Communication 2016, José Naranjo, left the situation in Niger to talk about "something much deeper than the convulsive moment that West Africa is experiencing. A moment of tremendous change." Since 2011 he has lived in Senegal and has often had the opportunity to travel to countries in that environment, such as Mali, Niger, BurkinaFaso or Sierra Leone, and recognizes that "one does not cease to be surprised by the levels of poverty andchild nutrition that exist.. They are, really, people abandoned to their fate."

Statements were then made by the representative of the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission in Spain. Etiennede Perier, who acknowledged that "there is much to do" and reviewed the situation of the main European borders, with special attention to the Canary Islands. "It is a situation to which we pay close attention, as Frontex has detected 240,000 irregular arrivals so far this year across Europe, with an increase in asylum applications, which are already 720,000 in total."

For Etienne de Perier, "it is necessary to move towards a general agreement for the management of the common border in a fair, humane and efficient way." From his point of view, the agreement for the new EU Pact on Migration and Asylum "is close", adding that "this proposal must respond to the need to address challenges that are no longer the same. It proposes more efficient and faster procedures, in terms of asylum and also of return, since it is necessary to avoid the uncertainty of people over long periods of time. In addition, it advocates a fair sharing of responsibility and solidarity between territories. An obligatory solidarity."

José Naranjo moderated also a table with testimonies of migrants is integrated in the Archipelago, in which the Parliament of the Canary Islands opened to listen to the hard life experiences of migrants such as Yassim Halim, Jean Thea, Omar Gómez, Elizabeth Quiñones or Khadija Gueye.Examples of a possible integration.

This first session of the Conecta Canarias-Europa Conference concluded with the debate table of deputies of the Parliament of the Canary Islands on migration and asylum. Speakers included Elena Máñez, from the Canarian Socialist Parliamentary Group (GP);Socorro Beato, from the GP Nacionalista Canario; Juan Manuel García Casañas, from GP Popular; Luis Campos, from the GP Nueva Canarias Bloque Canarista, and Jesús Ramos Chinea, from the GP of ASG. Raúl Acosta (AHI) intervened through a video. The GP Vox excused his attendance.

The Conecta Canarias-Europa Conference will continue today with the second session dedicated to migration and asylum. This Tuesday 19 the opening of the event will be in charge of the president of the Social Rights Commission of the Parliament of the Canary Islands, YonathanMartín Fumero. Subsequently, the MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar will intervene; the territorial coordinator of the Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid (CEAR), Juan Carlos Lorenzo de Armas. The Canary Islands Red Cross, the Don Bosco Foundation, Caritas, Nuevo Futuro and the Canarian Foundation El Buen Samaritano will star in a shared presentation on models of social inclusion.

The Vice-President of the Parliament of Bremen, Germany, and rapporteur of the opinion of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) on the new pact on migration and asylum of the EU, Antje Grotheer, will intervene by videoconference before the colloquium table on Migration in the Canary Islands that will bring together Mame Cheikh Mbaye Seck, co-founder and president of the Canarian Reception Network and president of the Federation of African Associations in the Canary Islands; Loueila Mint El Mamy, immigration lawyer and activist; María Candelaria Delgado Toledo, Minister of Social Welfare of the Government of the Canary Islands, and Vicente Manuel Zapata, academic director of the Tenerife Immigration Observatory and professor of Human Geography at the University of La Laguna. The last presentation of this day, on Entrepreneurship and innovation among the immigrant population in the tourism sector of the Canary Islands, will be given by Pedro Calero, university expert in intelligent and innovative business management and professor at the University School of Tourism of Lanzarote.
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