Europe promise Spain to sort out immigration crisis in Canary Islands

Some 400 more migrants arrived at the islands by boat over the weekend. Authorities say the Canary Islands has intercepted well over 6,000 migrants since January, compared to 4,751 caught in all of 2005.

The accord is a concrete follow-up to an announcement of aid last week from the European Commission in Brussels, although more meetings are planned to decide which countries will send what and who will pay for it, the Spanish Interior Ministry said.

Spain estimates that in addition to its own planes and vessels monitoring small, crowded boats that bring migrants from west Africa to the Canary Islands, the new plan requires at least five patrol boats, five helicopters and a surveillance aircraft, deputy interior minister Antonio Camacho told a meeting of EU representatives.

The next meeting to decide the details is scheduled for some time after June 2, the ministry said.

The countries that have agreed in principle to help Spain are France, Britain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland, officials said.

The problem is European - not just Spanish - because the Canary Islands are just like any other part of Spain, and in theory at least, borderless EU travel rules mean someone arriving in the islands can travel to many other parts of Europe without having to show a passport, the AP reorts.

The new planes and vessels are scheduled to monitor waters off the key departure points for Africans making the long and dangerous trip to the Canary Islands, such as Mauritania, Senegal and Cape Verde.

The accord was announced as hundreds more migrants were intercepted as they arrived in the Canary Islands and a Foreign Ministry official prepared to begin a tour of African countries for talks aimed at halting the trend.

Authorities counted 186 migrants aboard two vessels escorted into Los Cristianos port on the island of Tenerife. Police said three more boats had been sighted close to the islands, likely carrying dozens more would-be immigrants.