African migrants arrive at Arguineguin port, in Gran Canaria, Canary islands, Spain, 24 September 2020 | Photo: Angel Medina G / EPA
African migrants arrive at Arguineguin port, in Gran Canaria, Canary islands, Spain, 24 September 2020 | Photo: Angel Medina G / EPA

The Senegalese authorities intercepted 186 migrants headed for the Canary Islands on two wooden canoes in an operation between Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.

The Senegalese navy intercepted 186 migrants headed for the Canary Islands on two wooden canoes in an operation between Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. The armed forces announced the news on October 8, AFP reported.

A patrol vessel off Mbour, a city south of the capital Dakar, stopped the informal craft during an operation late Tuesday night and in the early hours of Wednesday morning, according to a military statement.

Spanish vessel took part in operation

A Spanish vessel also took part in the operation, as part of the European Union border agency Frontex, which cooperates with some West African nations.

One wooden canoe - a traditional fishing craft known as a "pirogue" - was carrying 56 people "all believed to be Senegalese," the statement said. The second was carrying about 130 people, some of whom were probably from the tiny river state of The Gambia, which is completely surrounded by Senegal.

251 died on Atlantic route this year

West African migrants have increasingly opted to take the Atlantic migration route to the Canaries in recent years, as authorities have clamped down on crossings from Libya to Europe.

The archipelago lies more than 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the coast of Africa at its closest point. But the open-ocean route is perilous.

At least 251 people died attempting the crossing between January 1 and September 17, according to the International Organization for Migration, compared to 210 fatalities for the whole of last year.

 

More articles