Eighty-six migrants from sub-Saharan African countries were rescued on Monday, July 10, aboard a boat located earlier in the day off the Canary Islands, a spokeswoman for the rescuers announced. Spaniards to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
A plane sent by the rescuers had initially estimated that the number of people on board this boat could be« environ 200 » and that it seemed to correspond to a boat wanted in the same area after it left Senegal almost two weeks ago, but the Spanish sea rescue service later admitted that it had made a mistake in its estimate.
“The figure we gave earlier was from the plane [de recherche] Sassemar 101 » who had located the boat, “but it is difficult for an aerial means to determine the number of people” correct, justified the spokeswoman. This spokesperson was unable to specify whether another boat was adrift in the same area with around 200 people on board.
The rescued migrants are 80 men and 6 women, she said, adding that a rescue vessel at sea was taking them back to the island of Gran Canaria, where they should arrive shortly before 9 p.m. .
According to the NGO Caminando Fronteras, which gets its information from calls from migrants or their relatives, the missing boat with around 200 people on board left the Senegalese town of Kafountine on June 27, around 1,700 kilometers from the coast of the Canaries. “The families informed us of the disappearance of the boat, which they had not heard from for several days”said the founder of this NGO, Helena Maleno, in an audio message.
Two other boats missing
According to the NGO, two other boats that left Senegal on June 23 are also missing, with around 120 people on board in total. “There is still time to save their lives (…). They have been in the water for many days, but they are wooden boats” who can resist, assured Helena Maleno.
Senegal, and more particularly the south of the country, is one of the departure points towards Europe for illegal migrants; and Spain, one of the main gateways.
“We have confirmation that there were migrants who left. We haven’t heard from them.”said David Diatta, the mayor of Kafountine, to AFP. “They are Senegalese, Gambians, Guineans, Sierra Leoneans… Most of the time, they are foreigners who do not come from the city, who do not live in the area”he explained.
According to him, they leave from Kafountine because the city is close to many islands and bolongs, inlets which are so many hiding places for the contenders on this long journey and their smugglers.
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“As a local authority, we tried to take awareness-raising measures, but the state’s silence is regrettable. The gendarmes on the spot are in very reduced number and there is a lack of means “ to stop the departure of migrant canoes, deplores Mr. Diatta.
“People from outside organize themselves as they please” to go, “and it is only after the fact that we know about it”estimates Abdoulaye Demba, coordinator of the local council of artisanal fishing of the commune.
“None of the families affected will come to us directly because everyone knows it is a criminal phenomenon. Anyone who helps with the departure must be brought to justice”explains Mr. Demba.
See also: After the sinking of a boat with 750 people on board off the coast of Greece, video investigation into the faults of the relief