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180 Migrants die off coast of Mauritania, Senegal

October 30, 2020 at 1:19 pm

Spanish police guard the migrants at the Algeciras port in Spain on 31 July 2018 [Ignacio Marin/Anadolu Agency]

Over 180 refugees have died off the coasts of Mauritania and Senegal in recent botched migration attempts, local authorities said yesterday.

At least 140 migrants drowned after a vessel carrying more than 200 refugees sank off the coast of Senegal, the United Nations (UN) migration agency announced yesterday.

Naval personnel from Senegal and Spain as well as local fisherman rescued 59 of those on board, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

Rescuers also managed to recover the remains of 20 migrants who had drowned.

Meanwhile, 43 refugees died off the coast of Mauritania after their boat, which was carrying 80 people, ran into trouble earlier this week.

The refugees set off from Senegal heading for the Canary Islands two weeks ago, the Mauritanian News Agency reported.

The report added that: “The boat faced many difficulties while sailing in international waters, which caused the loss of dozens of those on board due to loss of supplies and climate disturbances during the voyage.”

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A further 37 individuals were rescued from the beleaguered boat near the Mauritanian coast and were taken to the northern city of Nouadhibou.

The city has become a hotspot for African migrants seeking to cross into Europe because of its proximity to the Canary Islands, an autonomous region of Spain.

The IOM estimated that approximately 11,000 migrants from West Africa have successfully reached the Canary Islands this year, up from 2,557 arrivals in the same period last year.

In light of the rising number of migration attempts, Bakary Doumbia, the IOM’s chief of mission for Senegal, said: “We call for unity between governments, partners and the international community to dismantle trafficking and smuggling networks that take advantage of desperate youth…”

“It is also important that we advocate for enhanced legal channels to undermine the traffickers’ business model and prevent loss of life.”

The IOM said that in September alone, 26 per cent of boats leaving West Africa for the Canary Islands had been shipwrecked or experienced some other incident.

While at least four other boats attempting to reach Europe from the Central Mediterranean, and one in the English Channel, were shipwrecked last week.

Earlier this week, a family of four Iranian Kurds, including two children aged nine and six, died in the English Channel when their boat capsized. Their 15-month-old boy, Artin, is still missing.

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