A representative from the Spanish government office in the Canaries has said that the three Nigerian stowaways who were found on an oil tanker’s rudder after an 11-day trip from Lagos, Nigeria, to Las Palmas, Canary Islands, are looking for asylum in Spain.
The three men were picked up from the rudder of the Alithini II ship by Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service on Monday and sent to two hospitals on the island of Gran Canaria with indications of dehydration and hypothermia.
According to Spanish police, one of them is still in the hospital, while the other two have been released. Under Spanish law, unless the stowaways seek asylum or are children, the ship owner or agent is responsible for returning them to Lagos. The ship is allowed to leave port now that they are seeking asylum. No one knows the names of the asylum seekers or why they were trying to get away from Nigeria and hide on the ship’s rudder.
Walking Borders, a human rights organisation, released a statement earlier Wednesday urging that the Spanish government suspend their imminent repatriation to Nigeria and that their cases be evaluated individually. The statement was made after Spanish officials said that two of the men had been sent back to the ship so that they could be sent home. They should be placed in the government’s humanitarian programme for migrants, according to the non-governmental group, so they can recover from their journey and perhaps seek asylum.
The three men were perched perilously on top of the rudder, their feet only a few inches from the water’s surface under the ship’s huge hull. The Malta-flagged vessel, according to the MarineTraffic monitoring database, left Lagos, Nigeria, on November 17, and the port-to-port distance is approximately 4,600 kilometres (2,800 miles).
One of the asylum seekers is a 14-year-old kid who characterised the trip as terrifying. In an interview, the youngster stated that they had to take turns sleeping, that they were mostly cold and wet, and that he was nearly thrown off after a fight.
The Canary Islands are a common stopover for African migrants seeking to enter Europe. However, it is one of the most dangerous routes.
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