At least 140 migrants on their way to Europe have drowned off the coast of Senegal. The United Nations Migration Office said on Thursday that it is the deadliest shipwreck reported so far in 2020.
The ship with two hundred passengers caught fire for unknown reasons on Saturday, after it had left a fishing village a few hours earlier. Then the boat capsized, reports the International Organization for Migrants (IOM).
The naval forces of Senegal and Spain have been able to rescue about 60 people, but “at least 140 people have drowned,” the IOM said in a statement. According to the statement, the boat was on its way to the Canary Islands.
The sea route between West Africa and the Canary Islands was once an important route for migrants trying to escape poverty in Africa. It is a dangerous stretch of sea.
Since the mid-2000s, the route has been more closely guarded by Spain. Since then, fewer crossings have taken place.
Crossing more this year
This year, however, the number of attempts to make the crossing has increased again. Eleven thousand migrants from West Africa will have arrived in the Canary Islands by 2020, a fourfold increase compared to last year. There is no direct explanation for the increase.
In September, 14 ships left Senegal for the islands, with a total of 663 migrants on board. More than a quarter of the ships were subject to a shipwreck or other incident en route.