At the least 140 individuals drowned when a ship carrying migrants sank off the Senegalese coast over the weekend within the deadliest shipwreck this 12 months, the Worldwide Group for Migration, a United Nations company, stated on Thursday.
The boat had left Mbour, a coastal city in western Senegal, on Saturday with about 200 migrants, certain for the Canary Islands. But it surely caught hearth a number of hours later and capsized within the Atlantic Ocean close to St.-Louis, on Senegal’s northwest coast, the company stated.
The Senegalese and Spanish navies, in addition to close by fishermen, managed to rescue 59 individuals and get better the stays of 20 others, in line with the Worldwide Group for Migration, which cited information studies.
The group stated it was deeply saddened by the shipwreck, which got here after 4 ships carrying migrants sank within the Central Mediterranean final week and one different sank within the English Channel.
“We name for unity between governments, companions and the worldwide group to dismantle trafficking and smuggling networks that make the most of determined youth,” Bakary Doumbia, the company’s chief of mission in Senegal, stated in an announcement.
“It’s also vital that we advocate for enhanced authorized channels to undermine the traffickers’ enterprise mannequin and forestall lack of life,” he stated.
The shipwreck got here because the variety of migrants making the harmful sea crossing from West Africa to the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago, has elevated considerably in current weeks, in line with the Worldwide Group for Migration.
About 11,000 migrants have reached the Canary Islands this 12 months, in contrast with 2,557 throughout the identical interval final 12 months, the company stated. At the least 414 individuals have died alongside the route, up from 210 final 12 months, the group stated.
Dame Mbengue instructed Senegalese information media that he had been one of many migrants aboard the boat when the engine caught hearth. The crew managed to regulate the flames, he stated, earlier than the hearth unfold to cans of gasoline, inflicting a serious explosion.
He stated he had jumped into the ocean and held onto a can that was floating within the water till he was rescued by passing boaters.
Macky Sall, the president of Senegal, wrote in French on Twitter, “It was with nice emotion that I discovered of the explosion, on the excessive seas, of the engine of a ship that was carrying younger compatriots.”
António Guterres, the United Nations secretary basic, stated he was horrified to be taught of the shipwreck.
“Each particular person looking for a greater life deserves security and dignity,” he stated on Twitter. “We’d like secure, authorized routes for migrants and refugees.”
The U.N. company stated that in September alone, 14 boats carrying 663 migrants — amongst them, 42 youngsters — had left Senegal for the Canary Islands. A couple of quarter of the boats sank or reported different issues.
Earlier this month, the Senegalese navy stated it had intercepted two lengthy canoes, often called pirogues, that had been loaded with 186 migrants who had been making an attempt to achieve Spain.
Benjamin N. Lawrance, a professor of historical past on the College of Arizona who has labored with West African migrants, stated poverty and excessive unemployment have pushed many individuals to depart West Africa for Europe, typically in small fishing boats that aren’t seaworthy.
In Senegal, an impoverished nation of 14 million, fishing shares have collapsed, decimating the regional economic system, after the nation handed over fishing rights to boats from China and the European Union, he stated.
If native fishing waters had been open to West African fishermen, a few of the migration to the Canary Islands would decline, he stated. Most of the shipwrecks within the area, he stated, contain only a few individuals and barely acquire worldwide consideration.
“Sadly, it’s a quite common prevalence, and we solely we be taught of those which might be notably tragic,” he stated. “However there are such a lot of which might be unaccounted for.”