Thirty-seven Senegalese Survivors of a Fatal Migration Attempt to Spain Reunite with Families After a Month

by Gabriel Martinez
Senegalese migration

Thirty-seven survivors of a tragic sea journey attempting to migrate to Europe were reunited with their emotional families in Senegal. The survivors were discovered adrift near the Atlantic archipelago of Cape Verde a week prior.

The vessel, laden with over 100 passengers, embarked on a journey from Senegal to Spain’s Canary Islands on July 10 but tragically never reached its planned destination. The death toll from this tragic voyage is feared to exceed 60.

A Spanish fishing boat rescued 38 individuals last week, and they were taken to Cape Verde before being repatriated to Senegal.

Senegalese authorities confirmed that a military aircraft brought back 37 men, inclusive of five minors and one citizen from Guinea-Bissau, from Sal Island of Cape Verde on Monday. Reporters from Big Big News observed some of the survivors being transported into ambulances at Dakar’s airport in Senegal. One survivor remained in medical care in Praia, Cape Verde’s capital, as per the local Red Cross.

The perilous migration path from West Africa to Spain remains one of the world’s most hazardous, with the number of migrants departing Senegal in fragile wooden vessels rising substantially over the past year. These boats aim to reach the Canary Islands, an African northwest coastal archipelago utilized as an entry point to mainland Europe.

According to the Spanish rights group Walking Borders, nearly 800 individuals have perished or disappeared in the Atlantic while attempting to reach the Canary Islands in the first half of 2023.

Factors like escalating youth unemployment, political instability, armed group violence, and climate change are compelling West African migrants to risk their lives on these overcrowded boats.

Relatives from Fass Boye, a Senegalese coastal fishing town and origin for many of these migrants, traveled south to Dakar’s military airstrip to greet their surviving family members, some of whom were transported to the airport via government-chartered bus.

The reunion was a mixed experience, marked by joy and sorrow, as more than 60 people remain unaccounted for and presumed deceased, including 18-year-old Papa Sow, More’s adoptive brother.

Unmarked beach graves in the Senegalese town of Saint-Louis bear testimony to the grim reality of such failed migration attempts.

Annette Seck, minister for Senegalese living abroad, during a press conference acknowledged the interment of seven discovered bodies in Cape Verde, extending her gratitude to the Cape Verdean authorities for their assistance and expressing sympathy to the grieving families.

The local fishermen and farmers in Fass Boye attribute the risk-taking by the young men to the absence of employment opportunities, compounded by the decline in fishing profits after the Senegalese government began contracting foreign companies using larger and more mechanized boats, depleting fish stocks at worrying levels.

Cheikh Seck, a head fisherman, mentioned that at least 20 large pirogues filled with hopeful migrants have departed the town over the past two decades.

According to Seck, Fass Boye has never witnessed a maritime tragedy of this magnitude.

For more extensive coverage of global migration, visit Big Big News’ migration site.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Senegalese migration

What was the destination of the migrants’ voyage?

The intended destination of the migrants was Spain’s Canary Islands, an archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa, commonly used as a stepping stone to continental Europe.

How many people were rescued, and how many are presumed dead from the voyage?

38 people were rescued from the ill-fated voyage, with 37 repatriated to Senegal. More than 60 migrants are feared dead and remain missing.

What are the primary reasons for the increase in migration attempts from Senegal?

Worsening youth unemployment, political unrest, violence by armed groups, and climate change are cited as major factors pushing migrants across West Africa to risk their lives on overcrowded boats.

Where were the survivors found, and who rescued them?

The survivors were found adrift off the Atlantic archipelago of Cape Verde, and they were rescued by a Spanish fishing vessel.

How has the local fishing industry in Fass Boye contributed to the migration problem?

Head fisherman Cheikh Seck stated that profits have nosedived since the Senegalese government began selling contracts to foreign companies, who use larger boats and more expensive machinery, depleting the fish stock at alarming rates. This has led to a lack of employment prospects, pushing young men to risk their lives on the deadly migration journey.

What was the reaction of the Senegalese government to this tragedy?

Annette Seck, the minister for Senegalese living abroad, thanked Cape Verde authorities for their aid and offered condolences to the bereaved Senegalese families. The Senegalese military also assisted in repatriating the survivors.

What is the global significance of this tragic event?

The incident shines a spotlight on the broader issue of migration from West Africa to Europe, highlighting the dangers of the route, the desperation driving the migrants, and the complex socio-economic and political factors involved.

More about Senegalese migration

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Mira K August 23, 2023 - 3:45 am

i think the governmets need to step up, it’s there responsibility. Not just Senegal, but the whole world.

James O'Reilly August 23, 2023 - 5:05 am

Can’t believe this keeps happening… something needs to be done NOW. Tragedy just doesnt stop, it’s heartbreaking.

TomJefferson42 August 23, 2023 - 6:21 am

This is just a symptom of a larger problem. Economic conditions, climate change and political unrest are the root causes. We should focus on them.

Fishing4Truth August 23, 2023 - 10:11 am

The part about the fishermen’s struggle really caught my eye. the gov’t selling contracts to foreign companies? That’s just not right!

Sarah_1990 August 23, 2023 - 5:16 pm

wheres the humanity. More than 60 people lost there lives. Families torn apart. it’s just to much.


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