The UN agencies UNHCR and IOM have spoken out against a steady increase in the number of migrants dying at sea after a boat was found near the Tenerife island with the corpses of 24 migrants onboard.
UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) warned April 28 in a statement of a continued increase of refugee and migrant deaths at sea.
The statement was issued Wednesday after a boat was found near the island of Tenerife with first a reported 17 corpses onboard, a number that later rose to 24.
The statement noted: "Some 200 people are estimated to have lost their lives at sea this year along the route to the Canary Islands and the Western Mediterranean route to Spain. Of those, nearly 90 perished at sea en route to the Canary Islands, including at least eight children and six women."
4,300 migrants arrived in Canary Islands since January
Since January, "more than 4,300 migrants and refugees, including unaccompanied children in need of protection, have arrived by sea to the Canary Islands. The rough seas at this time of year and the long distances travelled -- from 400 to more than 1,500 kilometers depending on where along the coast of West Africa the journey began -- make this route particularly dangerous. Boats may be adrift for days, running out of water and food," the statement added.
"UNHCR and IOM thank the Spanish authorities, Salvamento Marítimo and the State Security Forces and Corps for their life-saving work in search and rescue at sea. From Friday 23 to Sunday 25 April authorities rescued more than 200 people in the sea south of the Canary Islands," it noted.
'Bring in more legal routes'
"Both UN organizations call on all states to strengthen legal and safe pathways to provide alternatives to dangerous sea crossings. The states, all international, regional and local actors should also enhance their cooperation in the fight against human smuggling and trafficking networks that continue to profit from the desperation and vulnerabilities of migrants and refugees," the statement concluded.