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17 Aug, 2023 15:25

Over 60 Spain-bound African migrants thought drowned in Atlantic

Authorities say a fishing boat that set out a month ago with over 100 passengers has been found
Over 60 Spain-bound African migrants thought drowned in Atlantic

A migrant boat that left Senegal last month was discovered off the coast of Cape Verde earlier this week, with more than 60 of those originally on board presumed dead, the UN's International Organization of Migration agency (IOM) and local authorities said on Wednesday.

IOM spokesperson Safa Msehli told the media that a Spanish vessel had rescued at least 38 people, including four children, from the fishing boat near the Atlantic island nation on Monday.

The rescuers also found the bodies of seven people on board the vessel, according to Msehli.

Senegal’s foreign ministry said in a statement late on Tuesday that 101 passengers were aboard when it left the West African country’s coastal village of Fass Boye on July 10.

The ministry stated that it was coordinating with Cape Verdean authorities for the repatriation of survivors "as soon as possible," including a Guinea-Bissau national, who had been transferred to Sal island.

Walking Borders, a Spanish migration advocacy organization, said the vessel was a large pirogue-style fishing boat.

Relatives of the migrants contacted Walking Borders on July 20 after not hearing from the travellers for 10 days, the organization’s founder, Helena Maleno Garzon told the Associated Press.

In a statement on X (formerly Twitter), Garzon called the deaths of those bound for the Canary Islands “terrible.

"If the searches were efficient, they would be alive; if they were white, they would be alive," she argued, accusing authorities of turning "immigration control" into a "big business" at the expense of lives.

An estimated 951 migrants died attempting to reach Spain in the first half of 2023, according to a report published by Walking Borders in July.

The victims include nationals from up to 14 countries, including Algeria, Senegal, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gambia, Ethiopia, Guinea-Conakry, Mali, Morocco, Syria, Sri Lanka, and Sudan.

A total of 19 boats went missing in the first six months of this year with all those on board, including 112 women and 49 boys and girls, dying at sea, the report said.