Spanish rescuers are conducting a search operation in the waters of the Canary Islands for a migrant boat carrying at least 200 Africans, which has been missing for over a week.
The aid group Walking Borders reported that the fishing boat departed from Kafountine, a coastal town in southern Senegal. Situated approximately 1,700 kilometres (1,057 miles) away from Tenerife. According to Spain’s Efe news agency, there are many children believed to be on board.
In addition to the missing boat carrying around 200 people, two other similar boats, each with dozens of individuals, have also been reported missing.
The boat, carrying 200 migrant people, set sail from Kafountine on June 27, with the Canary Islands as its destination.
Spain’s maritime rescue service confirmed that an aircraft has been deployed to aid in the search efforts.
Limited information is available regarding the other two missing boats. Helena Maleno from Walking Borders informed Reuters news agency that one of the vessels is estimated to have around 65 people on board. While the other may carry up to 60 individuals, potentially bringing the total number of missing people across all three boats to over 300.
This distressing news follows closely after one of the deadliest migrant shipwrecks in the Mediterranean. Which occurred a few weeks ago off the coast of Greece. An overcrowded trawler capsized, resulting in the confirmed death of at least 78 people. While the United Nations reported that up to 500 individuals were still unaccounted for.
Alarming Death Toll and Ongoing Migration Challenges
The voyage from West Africa to the Canary Islands is regarded as one of the most perilous routes for migrants. Primarily due to their usage of rudimentary dugout fishing boats that are susceptible to the powerful Atlantic currents.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), at least 559 people lost their lives at sea while attempting to reach the Spanish islands last year. In 2021, the death toll reached 1,126.
Although the IOM noted a 30% decrease in irregular arrivals in the Canary Islands in 2022, with 15,682 people reported. It emphasized that the flow of migrants along this treacherous route remained significantly higher compared to previous years.
The disappearance of the migrant boat highlights the ongoing risks and challenges faced by individuals undertaking these dangerous journeys in search of better lives. Prompting renewed calls for international cooperation to address the root causes of migration. Moreover, enhance rescue and support mechanisms for those in need.