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    MADRID: The number of migrants from West Africa who braved the sea in fragile boats to reach Spain‘s Canary Islands jumped more than 1,000% in January from a year ago, data released by the country’s interior ministry on Thursday showed.
    A total of 7,270 irregular migrants reached the archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean between Jan. 1 and Jan. 31, a nearly 13-fold increase from the 566 in the same month in 2023, the ministry said.
    The chain of islands off Africa’s northwestern coast, one of Spain’s most popular tourist destinations, was the entry point for 39,910 migrants last year, an all-time record.
    El Hierro, the smallest and westernmost island, received more migrants than its own population of 9,000 in 2023.
    According to an annual report by rights group Walking Borders, the Atlantic route to the Canary Islands is the deadliest migration route to Spain, as 6,007 people lost their lives during the risky sea voyage last year.
    The total number of migrants who irregularly entered Spain in January – both by land and sea – was 8,067, a 524% increase compared to a year ago, the ministry added.

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