"I don't understand," one would-be immigrant told to the AFP news agency. "I am from Ivory Coast, and I have been taken to Senegal, which is not my country."

Upon arriving in Saint Louis, each person was given the equivalent of 15 euros so that they could get back to their homes and families, Correa said.

"I don't understand ...
I am from Ivory Coast, and I have been taken to Senegal, which is not my country."


Would-be immigrant on arriving in Senegal
Correa said the return had been organised at the request of the Spanish authorities.
 
"It is a one-off operation which ends today," he said.

Some of the Senegalese migrants repatriated from the Canaries claimed they had been told initially they were being flown to the Spanish mainland.

"When we took the plane, we were told we were going to Madrid or Barcelona. Now here we are back in Senegal," one of the men, who did not give his name, told Senegalese radio.
 
Mass repatriation

Nearly 4,500 Senegalese have been repatriated from Spain in little more than a month.

Madrid has agreed to grant more work permits for Senegalese immigrants and increase development aid to the west African country in an attempt to bring illegal immigration under control.

In December, Senegal agreed to a six-month extension of air and sea patrols by Spanish and other European Union forces along its coast as part of a strategy to halt the exodus.

About 31,000 Africans landed in the Canary Islands last year after perilous sea journeys in open wooden fishing boats.
 
Spanish officials estimate almost one in six would-be immigrants die in the attempt to reach the islands.