FILE PHOTO: Migrants rest on the pier after disembarking from a 'cayuco' (wooden boat) following a rescue operation on 4 July on the Spanish Canary island of Tenerife. FILE PHOTO: Migrants rest on the pier after disembarking from a 'cayuco' (wooden boat) following a rescue operation on 4 July on the Spanish Canary island of Tenerife.  (AFP or licensors)

At least 300 migrants missing off the shores of Tenerife

Spanish rescuers search waters off the Canary Islands for a boat carrying at least 200 African migrants that went missing more than a week ago. Another two boats carrying over 100 migrants have also been missing for over two weeks.

By Francesca Merlo

Spanish rescuers are searching the waters off the Canary Islands for at least 300 people who were travelling on three separate migrant boats from Senegal to Spain's Canary Islands. All three boats have disappeared, migrant aid group Walking Borders said on Sunday.

At least 300 people

There are few details about the first two boats other than that one was carrying about 65 people and the other between 50 and 60, and that they have been missing for 15 days since they left Senegal to try to reach Spain.

A third boat left Senegal on June 27 with about 200 people aboard. That would bring the total number of people missing across the three boats to more than 300.

The humanitarian group Walking Borders claims the third vessel sailed from Kafountine, a coastal town in southern Senegal, which is about 1,700 km (1,057 miles) from Tenerife. According to the group, there are many children on board.

The Spanish maritime rescue left Kafountine on 27 June, bound for the Canary Islands.

The news comes just a few weeks after Europe experienced one of its worst migrant shipwrecks in the Mediterranean, that of the fishing boat that sank off the Greek coast: at least 78 people are confirmed dead, but the United Nations reported that up to 500 are still missing. They, too, sadly are presumed dead.

Pope Francis' most recent appeal

Just two days ago, on 8 July, marking ten years since his visit to the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, Pope Francis once more reiterated the importance of showing solidarity and humanity towards the numerous migrants risking their lives at sea to reach European soil.

On that occasion, the Holy Father expressed his sorrow for the “recurring grave tragedies in the Mediterranean,” where countless innocent lives, particularly children, are lost as they search for a safer existence away from the horrors of war and violence.

He described these “silent massacres” as a distressing and deafening cry that should not leave anyone indifferent.

The Pope also lamented the inertia of society that seems to have lost the ability to show compassion.

Thousands of migrants continue to board dinghies and rickety boats at the hands of people smugglers to attempt the Mediterranean crossing to enter Europe.

Over 14,000 people have died or gone missing while making the crossing between Libya and Tunisia to Italy alone since 2014, according to data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

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10 July 2023, 13:29