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Dozens of Senegalese migrants are dead or missing after their boat is rescued with 38 survivors

Dozens of people are dead or missing following an attempt to migrate from Senegal by sea

ByZANE IRWIN Associated Press

August 16, 2023, 10:04 AM

Children play on fishing boats known as “pirogues” in Dakar, Senegal, Saturday June 24, 2023. Large pirogues such as the one found Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023, near Cabo Verde are used in migrant crossings from Senegal to Spain. (AP Photo/Zane Irwin)

The Associated Press

DAKAR, Senegal — A boat believed to have departed Senegal with more than 100 migrants in early July has been rescued with 38 survivors and several dead on board near the Atlantic island nation of Cabo Verde, authorities and migrant advocates said.

Senegal’s foreign affairs ministry said the boat was rescued Tuesday by the coast guard in Cabo Verde, an island nation about 620 kilometers (385 miles) off the coast of West Africa. Authorities did not confirm how many migrants died, or what caused the trip to fail.

The Spanish migration advocacy group Walking Borders said the vessel was a large fishing boat, called a pirogue, which had left Senegal on July 10 with more than 100 migrants on board.

Families in Fass Boye, a seaside town 145 kilometers (90 miles) north of the capital Dakar, had reached out to Walking Borders on July 20 after ten days without hearing from loved ones on the boat, group founder Helena Maleno Garzón said.

Cheikh Awa Boye, president of the local fishermen’s association, said he has two nephews among the missing. “They wanted to go to Spain,” Boye said.

The route from West Africa to Spain is one of the world’s most dangerous, yet the number of migrants leaving from Senegal on rickety wooden boats has surged over the past year.

Nearly 1,000 migrants died while trying to reach Spain by sea in the first six months of 2023, the Walking Borders group says. Factors such as youth unemployment, political unrest and the impact of climate change push migrants to risk their lives on overcrowded boats.

On Aug. 7, the Moroccan navy recovered the bodies of five Senegalese migrants and rescued 189 others after their boat capsized off the coast of Western Sahara.

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Associated Press writer Babacar Dione contributed to this report.

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