Senegal’s navy reported on Sunday that it had intercepted more than 600 migrants attempting to reach Europe off the country’s coast within a span of three days. On late Saturday, two additional boats carrying 262 prospective migrants, which included 26 women and 13 minors, were intercepted. The navy had also halted a vessel carrying 272 passengers on Friday and 71 individuals the day before
The rescues come during the busy summer season, when thousands of migrants attempt to cross the hundreds of miles of ocean separating Africa and Europe each year in a desperate search for a better life.
The Senegalese navy has stepped up its boarding and rescue operations against illegal migrants in recent weeks. It has intercepted 1,955 would-be migrants since July 1, according to its social media accounts.
Dangerous journey to Europe
From Senegal and its neighboring countries, boats repeatedly set off in the direction of the Canary Islands, which are about 1500 kilometers away and belong to Spain.
Between January 1 and August 31, 11,439 migrants arrived on the islands, 7.5 percent more than in the same period in 2022, according to the Spanish Interior Ministry. This is the highest number for this time of year since at least 2018, and most likely since 2006.
The Atlantic Ocean, with its strong currents and high waves, is considered one of the most dangerous escape routes to Europe. Since the beginning of 2023, 140 migrants have died or disappeared during the crossing, according to data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in early September.
At the end of July, the Senegalese government unveiled a 10-year plan to combat irregular migration from the West African country with domestic and foreign funding, amid heightened attention on migrants following several tragedies.
The five-pillar plan includes strengthening border management and law enforcement against smugglers, as well as supporting the repatriation and reintegration of migrants in Senegal.