| 16 April 2024, Tuesday |

Spain says it may have spotted missing migrant vessel

On Monday, the Spanish coast guard reported that one of its surveillance planes has identified a potential vessel from Senegal that may be carrying hundreds of migrants. This vessel has been missing for almost two weeks.
Several news agencies cited the Spanish coast guards as saying they spotted a large boat with some 200 people on board near the island of Gran Canaria.

A rescue ship was en route to the boat, the coast guards told the Reuters news agency, adding that the journey would take some two-and-a-half hours.

“We do not yet know for sure if it is one of the missing boats. But the size and number of people on board is consistent with the information we have,” a Sea Rescue spokeswoman said.

Earlier on Sunday, migrant aid group Walking Borders said that three boats with at least 300 migrants on board have disappeared off Spain’s Canary Islands.

What do we know about the missing boats?
It is reported that the boats carrying African migrants, which took off from Senegal to reach Spain, have been missing for 15 days.

All three boats sailed from Kafountine in the south of Senegal, which is about 1,700 kilometers (1,057 miles) from Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands.

Helena Maleno from Walking Borders said that one boat was carrying about 65 people and the other between 50 and 60.

A third boat departed on June 27 with about 200 people on board.
Maleno said the families of those on board have not heard from them since they left.

“The families are very worried. There are about 300 people from the same area of Senegal. They have left because of the instability in Senegal,” she added.

According to the data from the United Nations International Organisation for Migration, at least 559 people — including 22 children — died last year in attempts to reach the Canary Islands.

The islands have become the main destination for migrants trying to reach Spain and summer is the busiest period for all attempted crossings.
The Atlantic migration passage, one of the deadliest in the world, is typically used by migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

In the first half of 2023, at least 951 migrants have died while trying to reach Spain by sea, a Spanish migrant rights group said last week.

The total includes 112 women and 49 children. Spanish figures show fewer boats arrived in the first six months, but the number of deaths is a little higher when compared to last year.

According to Spain’s Interior Ministry, 12,192 people arrived by boat in the first half of 2023, 4% fewer than in the same period last year.

  • DW