File photo: Wrecks of boats used to get to Lanzarote from the African coast in Arrecife, Canary Islands, Spain, November 22, 2021 | Photo: Nicola Marfisi / Avalon
File photo: Wrecks of boats used to get to Lanzarote from the African coast in Arrecife, Canary Islands, Spain, November 22, 2021 | Photo: Nicola Marfisi / Avalon

The Spanish coast guard said they found two people dead -- one of whom was a four-year-old girl -- in a "barely seaworthy vessel" just off Lanzarote, one of the Spanish Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, on Friday.

A fishing boat came to the migrant boat's assistance, stated the Spanish coast guard on Friday, July 15. In addition to finding the two bodies, a third person was airlifted to hospital after suffering from "chest pain," the coast guard told news agency Agence France Presse (AFP).

According to Euronews, a total of 51 people were on board the boat where the two dead were found, and another boat carrying 27 people was also found nearby. The Spanish news agency EFE reported that local officials thought that the woman and the four-year-old girl found dead had been "squashed by the number of the people in the boat."

News agency AP added that "it wasn’t immediately known if the child and woman were related." The boat is believed to have left the south-western Moroccan city of Tantan.

More women and children attempt crossing

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who work in the field of migration have said that more and more women and children are attempting the crossing from the coast of West Africa to the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean.

On July 14, the local Spanish news portal Canarias 7 reported that another boat containing 54 sub-Saharan African migrants, including 42 adult males, 10 women, one of whom was pregnant, and two children were rescued off the east coast of Lanzarote.

After being brought on shore, the pregnant woman and the two children were taken to hospital for medical checks. The rest of the migrants in the boat were declared to be in a good state of health, reported Canarias 7.

A further dinghy was spotted on Friday morning, also carrying about 50 migrants, reported AP.

Arrivals in 2022

Figures from the Spanish Interior Ministry show that 9,308 migrants have arrived on the Canary Islands since the beginning of 2022. That is 27% more than the numbers arriving in the same period last year, reported Euronews citing the Spanish Interior Ministry.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR last updated its figures on July 10. On that date, it reported that almost 15,000 (14,844) migrants had reached Spain since the beginning of the year. The vast majority of those arrived on the Canary Islands, with 2,572 arriving in mainland Spain in the south of the country, and 1,199 in the Spanish enclave of Melilla on the African continent.

According to the UN Migration Agency (IOM)'s Missing Migrants project, at least 312 migrants have died on the route towards the Canary Islands or in West Africa since the beginning of the year.

Other NGOs, like the Spanish organization Caminando Fronteras (Walking Borders), estimate that the actual number of dead and missing is much higher as many of those who die are not registered as having left at all, and some don't even tell their relatives before they leave.

Also listen: Tales from the Border -- Crossing the vast Atlantic Ocean

With AP, AFP


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