Hundreds of migrants feared missing at sea near Spanish Canary Islands

The Atlantic migration route, one of the deadliest in the world, is typically used by migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. (Photo/AP Archive)

At least 300 people who were travelling on three migrant boats from Senegal to Spain's Canary Islands have disappeared, migrant aid group Walking Borders said.

Two boats, one carrying about 65 people and the other with between 50 and 60 on board, have been missing for 15 days since they left Senegal to try to reach Spain, Helena Maleno of Walking Borders told Reuters news agency on Sunday.

A third boat left Senegal on June 27 with about 200 people aboard. All three boats left Kafountine in the south of Senegal, which is about 1,700 kilometres (1,057 miles) from Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands.

"The families are very worried. There are about 300 people from the same area of Senegal. They have left because of the instability," Maleno said, adding that those on board have not been heard from since leaving.

The Canary Islands off the coast of West Africa have become the main destination for irregular migrants trying to reach Spain, with a much smaller number also seeking to cross the Mediterranean Sea to the Spanish mainland.

The Atlantic migration route, one of the deadliest in the world, is typically used by migrants and asylum seekers from sub-Saharan Africa. At least 559 people - including 22 children - died in 2022 in attempts to reach the Canary Islands, according to data from the International Organisation for Migration.

Migrant boat sinks off Tunisia’s coast

In a separate incident, one migrant died and 10 others went missing when their boat sank off Tunisia’s coast, according to local authorities.

“A boat carrying 22 migrants sank off the coast of the city of Sfax,” Fawzi al Masmoudi, a spokesperson for the Court of First Instance in Tunisia’s southern city, said on Sunday.

The spokesman said rescue efforts are still ongoing to find the missing migrants, while 11 others had been rescued.

This tragedy raises the number of dead and missing off the North African country's coasts to more than 600 in the first half of 2023, far more than in any previous year, according to figures compiled by Reuters.

The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, a human rights group, said on Saturday that the number of dead and missing in boat sinkings has reached 608 and the coastguard had foiled attempts to board boats by about 33,000 people from Tunisia's coasts.

For years, North African countries such as Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, and Morocco have witnessed attempts by migrants – mainly from sub-Saharan Africa – to reach Europe, hoping for a better life.


Source: TRT