More than 60 migrants are presumed to have lost their lives aboard a canoe that left the Senegalese coast in early July and was found on Monday off the coast of Cape Verde, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Wednesday.
The number of dead people is estimated at 63, with 38 survivors, including four children aged between twelve and sixteen, IOM spokesperson Safa Msehli told AFP.
The boat was spotted Monday in the Atlantic about 150 nautical miles (277 km) from the Cape Verdean island of Sal by a Spanish fishing vessel which alerted Cape Verdean authorities, Cape Verdean police said. archipelago, approximately six hundred kilometers from the Senegalese coast.
Apart from the 38 survivors, emergency services found the remains of seven people, the spokesperson reported.
According to the testimonies of survivors cited by the Senegalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other sources, the boat left the town of Fass Boye (west), on the Senegalese coast, on July 10 with 101 passengers on board, all Senegalese. with the exception of a Bissau-Guinean.
So 56 people are missing. “Generally, when people are reported missing following a shipwreck, they are presumed deceased,” said the spokesperson.
The authorities have so far been careful not to comment on what happened after the departure of the canoe on July 10.
But “the missing are all dead”corroborated with AFP Abdou Karim Sarr, a manager of the Local Artisanal Fishing Councils (CLPA), a professional organization.
It is “sadness, dismay, despair and total calm”, a local elected official from Fass Boye, Moda Samb, told AFP.
According to Mr. Samb, 98% of the occupants of the dugout are from Fass Boye: “They were born and raised” in this fishing town.
“One of the survivors who spoke to his father on the phone told him that the others (missing) are dead “did he declare. “Others (families) are waiting to know if their children are among the survivors”he said.
Cape Verde is on the maritime migratory route taken each year by thousands of Africans fleeing poverty or war for Europe, or hoping for a better life, despite the dangerousness of the journey which costs hundreds of lives. ‘between them. They travel aboard modest boats or motorized canoes provided by smugglers who pay for the trip. Many land in the Canaries, a Spanish archipelago and gateway to Europe.
A very dangerous road to exile
Numerous testimonies report the perils of the journey, subject to weather hazards, engine damage, thirst and hunger.
Cape Verdean authorities said they had mobilized all necessary means to assist the passengers, seven of whom were hospitalized after disembarking on the island of Sal on Tuesday. The Senegalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has assured that it is working towards the repatriation of its nationals ” as soon as possible “.
Around 90 migrants from Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone had already been rescued in Cape Verdean waters in mid-January.
Senegal has been bereaved by several migration tragedies in recent years.
Sixteen migrants died on the night of July 23 to 24 when their boat sank near Dakar. At least 13 Senegalese lost their lives a few days earlier off the Moroccan coast.
The Senegalese government presented at the end of July a National Strategy to combat irregular migration, along different axes: prevention, border control, repression, return and reintegration of migrants.
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