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Illegal passengers on tanker from Nigeria to be deported from Spain – SABC News

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Two of three stowaways who were rescued in Spain’s Canary Islands after spending 11 days at the wheel of a fuel tanker from Nigeria have been returned to the ship for deportation.

A third person who suffered from hypothermia and dehydration while swimming has not yet been released from a hospital in Gran Canaria, a local government official said. Under Spanish law, any undocumented passenger who does not seek asylum must be returned by the ship’s operator to the port from which the journey began, a police official told Reuters.

A photo shared by the Spanish Coast Guard on Twitter on Monday showed the three stowaways huddled on the rudder under the hull, just above the Alithini II’s waterline.

According to Marine Traffic, the 183m Maltese-flagged ship arrived in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria after sailing from Lagos, Nigeria on November 17 and transiting the West African coast.

The ship’s captain confirmed to the Red Cross that it had left Nigeria 11 days ago.

A spokesman for the Canary Islands police said that the ship’s operator should take care of the stowaways, provide them with temporary accommodation and return them to their place of departure as soon as possible.

At the very least, the migrants should have been informed of their right to seek political asylum and questioned before returning to the ship, said Helena Maleno, director of the migration NGO Walking Borders. “The conditions of the trip already indicate that there could be something very serious behind it, because the pictures are incredible. We have never seen such conditions when they arrived alive,” Malena said.

She added: ‚ÄúThese people must be in a state of shock. They need a couple of days to recover and from there they can explain what they were running from to make that decision.”

Alithini II, owned by Gardenia Shiptrade SA, is managed by Athens-based Astra Ship Management, according to public database Equasis.

Astra Ship Management did not return multiple calls from Reuters seeking comment. A Spanish government spokesman in the Canary Islands did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether migrants should have been informed of their rights.

The coastguard said the migrants were rescued by a coastguard vessel around 19:00 local time (19:00 GMT) on Monday.

According to the emergency services of the Canary Islands and the Red Cross, the stowaway was treated for moderate dehydration and hypothermia. The third migrant, who was in a more serious condition, had to be taken to another hospital on the island.

The Canary Islands, owned by Spain, are a popular but dangerous gateway for African migrants trying to reach Europe. According to the International Organization for Migration, since 2014, 2,976 migrants have died or gone missing after trying to cross from Africa to the archipelago by sea.

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