From file: A baby was born on a boat en route to the Canary Islands, April 29, 2021 | Photo: Reuters
From file: A baby was born on a boat en route to the Canary Islands, April 29, 2021 | Photo: Reuters

More than 40 migrants trying to reach Spain’s Canary Islands from West Africa have reportedly died in shipwrecks in the past few days. Several hundred others made the crossing to arrive in Spanish territory.

Spanish emergency services said Monday (June 28) that they had intercepted a boat off the Canary Islands carrying 37 people who had set off from Africa. Two of the migrants in the boat had died.

Seven of the survivors on the boat needed to be hospitalized, and three were in a serious condition, authorities said. All of the migrants were from sub-Saharan Africa.

Another boat carrying migrants was also reported to have got into distress off the coast of Western Sahara on Sunday. Around 40 people died in the accident, including two children and 10 women, while 22 survivors were rescued by a fishing boat, tweeted Helena Maleno Garzón from the organization Caminando Fronteras, a Spanish NGO.

400 arrivals at weekend

At the weekend about 400 migrants arrived in Spain by boat, the majority to the Canary Islands, the EFE news agency reported. Spanish maritime rescue services said most of those arriving were from countries in sub-Saharan Africa, while the rest were from Maghreb.

At least 10 migrants were evacuated to health centers to receive medical assistance, including a child who had to be transferred in a serious condition to a hospital on the Canary Island of Tenerife.

In addition to the boats arriving in the Canary Islands, about 60 people were intercepted in boats off the coast of Andalusia in southern Spain, according to the AFP news agency.

Rising death toll

The number of migrants arriving to the Canary Islands has continued to grow since late 2019. Last year 23,023 migrants reached the Canaries, eight times as many as in 2019, figures from the Spanish interior ministry show.

This year more than 5,700 people have already landed in the Canaries, twice as many as in the same period last year.

The route across the Atlantic from the west coast of Africa to the Canary Islands is extremely dangerous. Last year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said 850 people had died en route, but Caminando Fronteras estimated the death toll to be at least 1,851.

•••• ➤Also read: Steady increase in migrant deaths at sea, warn UNHCR and IOM

On June 17, four migrants, including a child and a woman who was pregnant, died when their boat carrying 50 people capsized near the island of Lanzarote.

At its shortest, the sea crossing from the Moroccan coast is around 100 kilometers, but due to strong currents, some boats drift for several days. At the end of May, a boat that left Mauritania headed for the Canary Islands was discovered off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago, in the Caribbean. Fourteen corpses in an advanced state of decomposition were found on board.



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