1,600 African migrants have landed on Spain’s Canary Islands as refugees.

More than 1,600 African migrants have landed on Spain’s Canary Islands over a two-day period, a rate last seen a decade ago, emergency services said Sunday.

More than 1,000 arrived Saturday alone on the islands of Gran Canaria, Tenerife and El Hierro, after setting out on around 20 barely seaworthy craft, a spokeswoman for the Canary services told AFP.

She added that the body of one migrant was recovered on El Hierro.

Early on Sunday, other boats carrying around 600 others arrived as well.

The island chain lies 100 kilometres (60 miles) off the coast of North Africa and has seen a surge of arrivals in recent months after border control agreements were reached between the European Union and Libya, Morocco and Turkey.

Since January, over 11,000 illegal migrants have made their way to the Canary Islands, Spanish interior ministry data shows — more than seven times as many as during the same period in 2019.

On Friday, EU internal affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson called for increased repatriations of migrants who do not qualify for refugee status.

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