Tragedy struck off the coast of Cape Verde as a boat carrying migrants capsized, leaving several people dead and dozens more missing and feared dead.
The International Organization for Migration has reported that over 60 individuals are believed to have lost their lives in this devastating incident, which took place in July.
According to IOM spokesperson Safa Msehli, the boat departed from Senegal a month ago and was headed towards Cape Verde, an island nation situated around 620 km (385 miles) off the West African coast. The vessel, identified as a fishing boat, was carrying a total of 101 individuals, including four children aged between 12 to 16 years old. Of these passengers, only 38 were fortunate enough to be rescued.
The Senegalese foreign ministry has confirmed that 38 people, including one individual from Guinea-Bissau, were successfully saved from the wreckage. However, the total number of survivors and casualties remains disputed. While the coast guard has reported a total of 48 survivors and deceased, the local morgue states that it received seven dead bodies.
The boat was sighted on Monday, approximately 320km (200 miles) from the island of Sal, by a Spanish fishing vessel that promptly alerted Cape Verde authorities and initiated the rescue operations. Cape Verdean Health Minister Filomena Goncalves has expressed their deep condolences, emphasising the importance of providing assistance and proper burial for those who have lost their lives.
This tragic incident highlights the perilous journey that many migrants undertake in search of better opportunities. The boat’s departure from Senegal and its intended destination in Cape Verde stand as a stark reminder of the dangerous routes migrants often take in their quest for a brighter future.
Furthermore, this event sheds light on the urgent need for increased efforts to address the root causes of migration and enhance search and rescue missions in the region. The loss of so many lives highlights the importance of collaboration between countries, organisations, and stakeholders to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.
According to the Spanish migration advocacy group Walking Borders, a pirogue (a large fishing boat) departed from Senegal on July 10 with over 100 migrants and refugees on board. Concerned families in Fass Boye, a town north of Dakar, contacted Walking Borders after ten days without any communication from their loved ones aboard the boat.
The president of the local fishermen’s association, Cheikh Awa Boye, revealed that two of his nephews were among the missing individuals who sought to reach Spain. Following the incident, seven survivors required medical attention and were transported to the hospital.
Cape Verde is situated along the migration route towards the Spanish Canary Islands, acting as an entry point to the European Union for many individuals.
Each year, thousands of refugees and migrants face perilous journeys as they flee poverty and conflict. Utilising small boats or powered canoes provided by smugglers for a fee, they brave these dangerous waters in hopes of finding a better life.
In January, rescue teams in Cape Verde saved approximately 90 migrants and refugees who were adrift in a canoe; tragically, two others lost their lives during this rescue operation.
The individuals on board hailed from Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Sierra Leone.