Hundreds of African migrants missing off Canary Islands

Lazy eyes listen


Spanish authorities are looking for a boat carrying at least 200 African migrants, including children, that has been missing for nearly two weeks off the coast of the Canary Islands.

The ship is alleged to have set sail in late June from the village of Kafountine in Senegal’s Cassamance area, roughly 1,700 km from Spain’s Canary Islands.

Helena Maleno, a human rights campaigner with the migrant relief organisation Walking Borders, told Reuters on Sunday that two smaller boats, one with approximately 65 people and the other 60 people on board, have also been unable to be discovered since they departed Senegal 15 days ago in an attempt to reach Spain.

They are thought to have left West Africa on June 23, four days before the larger vessel.

The Spanish rescue service stated that it had only received one official alarm for the 200-person boat, but that its plane was scanning the area for any vessels in difficulty.

It announced on Monday that one of its planes had sighted a vessel transporting hundreds of migrants, raising the possibility that it was the missing vessel.

“The plane has found a large boat with approximately 200 people on board, 71 miles south of Gran Canaria,” a Reuters spokesperson said.

According to a recent estimate from the United Nations’ International Organisation for Migration (IOM), at least 559 individuals died at sea in 43 shipwrecks along the West African Atlantic route to Spain’s Canary Islands in 2022. According to the IOM, the death toll for 2021 will be 1,126 migrants, with 74 shipwrecks.

When an overcrowded Egyptian trawler sank off the Greek coast last month, at least 78 people were known to have drowned, with the UN warning that up to 500 were still missing.