2021-10-02 04:32:48 Nearly 60 African Migrants Drown on Way to Canary Islands

Nearly 60 African Migrants Drown on Way to Canary Islands

Nearly 60 African migrants are believed to have drowned while attempting to reach Spain’s Canary Islands, the latest tragedy in a year in which fatalities on this ocean crossing have more than doubled since the same time last year.

Helena Maleno Garzón, the founder of Caminando Fronteras, a Spanish nongovernmental organization that assists migrants, tweeted that 57 people had died, including 12 children. “Stop this border massacre,” she pleaded.

Ms. Maleno later explained over the phone that the victims were among 62 people who boarded a boat last week from Morocco’s Western Sahara region. She stated that 16 of the dead had been recovered and were being held in Dakhla, the Western Sahara port city where the voyage began, awaiting formal identification. According to her, only five people on the boat survived.

“They were going in circles because they got lost, which happens to a lot of the boats that leave from Dakhla, and then they tried to get back, which is when this tragedy happened,” Ms. Maleno explained. She stated that the precise details of the shipwreck and rescue of the few survivors were not immediately clear.

The Canary Islands, located in the Atlantic off the coast of northwest Africa, are one of the world’s most dangerous migration destinations. According to recent reports, the number of migrants attempting to cross from Morocco and other countries along Africa’s western coast has increased this summer, often with fatal consequences.

The International Organization for Migration said in a report released a week ago that there has been “an alarming loss of life” on the route to the Canary Islands since the beginning of 2021.

August was the worst month so far, accounting for nearly half of the 785 people — including 50 children — who have died or gone missing while traveling from Africa to the Canary Islands this year.

According to the I.O.M., a United Nations agency, the number of fatalities has more than doubled since the same period in 2020. Last year, 850 migrants died on the Canary route, the highest number of victims since the International Organization for Migration began collecting data in 2014.

Nonetheless, Frank Laczko, director of the International Organization for Migration’s Global Migration Data Analysis Center, warned last week that the true number of lives lost at sea was likely much higher. “Invisible shipwrecks with no survivors are thought to be common on this route but are nearly impossible to verify,” he wrote in the report.

Over the last two years, the Canary Islands have increasingly become a gateway to Europe for thousands of migrants, including an increasing number who board ships from ports like Dakhla in Western Sahara, a heavily militarized area where Morocco has long been involved in a territorial conflict.

Migration experts believe that a portion of the increase in travel to the Canary Islands is due to human traffickers resurrecting that route after other crossings, most notably that between Italy and Libya, became impassable.

Even though many die at sea, the influx of those who survive the journey has put a strain on the migration centers in the Canary Islands, which is also a popular tourist destination in Spain. Last year, the Spanish government housed thousands of migrants who had arrived on Gran Canaria in hotels that had been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms. Maleno stated that the distressed migrants on the boat had alerted her organization a few days ago, and their request for assistance had been relayed to Moroccan and Spanish authorities, but to no avail. She stated that officials from Ivory Coast and Guinea had traveled to Dahkla to assist in the identification of the victims, the majority of whom were believed to be from these two countries.

Spain has also faced an influx of migrants to its two North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, where many attempt to scale the border fences that surround them.

According to RTVE, the Spanish national broadcaster, on Friday, Moroccan and Spanish border police prevented approximately 700 migrants from scaling Melilla’s fences, citing unnamed officials from Spain’s military police and the regional government of Melilla.

Thousands of people managed to enter Ceuta last May, despite political squabbles between the Spanish and Moroccan governments over Spain’s decision to allow a separatist leader from Western Sahara to receive Covid-19 treatment in mainland Spain.

Source link

Other News

Subscribe to our World NEWS Letter

Nearly 60 African Migrants Drown on Way to Canary Islands