At least 44 people, including several infants, drowned off Morocco's coast last week as they were trying to reach Spain's Canary Islands, an NGO has said.
The Spanish aid agency Caminando Fronteras says at least 44 people drowned in a shipwreck off the coast of Tarfaya in southern Morocco last week.
Quoting family members of those who died, the NGO said that the bodies of five women and two babies had been brought ashore and taken to the morgue at Laayoune, the main city in the territory of Western Sahara. The rest of the dead were still missing.
The group’s founder, Helena Maleno, said the deceased migrants had been among 61 people who had boarded a boat heading for Spain's Canary Islands, around 100 kilometers from Tarfaya.
The group had included six infants, Maleno tweeted.
Sources from the sub-Saharan community in Morocco told the Spanish news agency EFE on Sunday that most of the victims were from the Ivory Coast, Senegal and Guinea, and that the boat sank due to a storm.
Morocco is one of the main transit point on routes taken by migrants to Europe.
The journey from the north African coast to Spain, especially to the Canary Islands, is extremely deadly. According to Caminando Fronteras, more than 4,400 migrants died or disappeared last year attempting to make their way to Spain, twice as many as in 2020. The bodies of most of those who died have not been recovered.
The European Union said last week that it wanted to increase cooperation with Morocco to prevent migrants from entering the EU, as the number of people trying to reach the Canary Islands rose sharply.