AKAR, Senegal (AP) — Tragedy Strikes: Spanish Fishing Vessel Rescues Boat near Cape Verde, Over 60 Migrants Feared Dead
A distressing situation has unfolded as it is suspected that more than 60 migrants may have tragically lost their lives. This heartbreaking incident occurred when a Spanish fishing vessel responded to a boat’s distress near the Atlantic archipelago of Cape Verde. Initially, this boat had set sail with over 100 individuals on board. This dire news was confirmed by both authorities and migrant advocates on Thursday.
Among the somber discoveries made by the rescuers were the presence of seven lifeless bodies found on the ill-fated boat. Adding to the sorrow, approximately 56 individuals are currently unaccounted for and presumed to have perished at sea. This sobering information was conveyed by Safa Msehli, a spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration. Simultaneously, Senegal’s foreign affairs ministry reported that an earlier rescue operation had managed to save 38 individuals near Cape Verde earlier in the week. This location is situated roughly 620 kilometers (385 miles) off the West African coastline.
The Spanish migration advocacy group, Walking Borders, disclosed that the vessel involved was a sizable fishing boat known as a “pirogue.” This boat had commenced its journey from Senegal on July 10.
The sorrow felt by families in Fass Boye, a coastal town located 145 kilometers (90 miles) north of the capital, Dakar, was palpable. After enduring an agonizing 10 days without communication from their loved ones aboard the vessel, families reached out to Walking Borders for assistance. This plea was made by Helena Maleno Garzón, the founder of the group.
Cheikh Awa Boye, president of the local fishing association, shared the heart-wrenching news that survivors had managed to reach out from Cape Verde following the rescue operation. Regrettably, Boye revealed that two of his nephews were among those currently missing.
Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service confirmed the involvement of a Spanish fishing boat named the Zillarri in the rescue operation. On August 14, this vessel spotted a Senegalese pirogue adrift northeast of Cape Verde. The result was the rescue of 38 survivors and the recovery of seven bodies. A representative from PEVASA, the tropical tuna fishing company operating the Zillarri, disclosed that the survivors were in a critical condition and were found in a state of distress.
The route from West Africa to Spain remains one of the world’s most dangerous migration paths. However, the past year has witnessed a notable rise in the number of migrants departing from Senegal on precarious wooden boats. These vessels often brave the journey to Spain’s Canary Islands, serving as a steppingstone to continental Europe.
Sadly, Walking Borders reported that nearly 1,000 migrants have lost their lives while attempting to reach Spain by sea during the first half of 2023. A combination of factors, including escalating youth unemployment, political instability, violence by armed groups, and the consequences of climate change, drive migrants from West Africa to take life-threatening risks on overcrowded boats.
According to figures from the Spanish Interior Ministry, nearly 10,000 individuals have already arrived on the Canary Islands by sea from the northwest coast of Africa this year.
The tragic sequence of events continues to August 7, a date marked by the intervention of the Moroccan navy. On this day, the navy undertook the solemn task of recovering the remains of five Senegalese migrants while also managing to rescue 189 other individuals. This heart-wrenching incident unfolded after their boat capsized off the coastline. of Western Sahara.
A poignant reminder emerges from a 2021 AP investigation that uncovered the plight of at least seven migrant boats from northwest Africa that had become disoriented in the Atlantic, drifting into the Caribbean and even reaching as far as Brazil, carrying only lifeless bodies.