File photo of migrants on the Atlantic route File photo of migrants on the Atlantic route  (AFP or licensors)

Mauritania migrant tragedy highlights need for better EU policy

The bodies of 89 migrants have been recovered from the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Mauritania in West Africa after the capsizing of a fishing vessel. At least 170 people are believed to have been on board.

By Linda Bordoni 

Mauritanian Coast Guard officers recovered the bodies of 89 people who were aboard a large traditional fishing boat when it capsized in choppy Atlantic waters.

Nine people were rescued, including a five-year-old girl, but survivors said there were at least 170 people on board the boat, leaving 72 missing. The migrants had set out from the Gambia/Senegal border a week ago, and were bound for Europe.

The boat reportedly capsized just 4 km from Mauritania’s coastal city of Ndiago.

More and more desperate migrants follow the dangerous route from West Africa to Spain’s Canary Islands off the northwestern African coast and then to other parts of Spain and Europe.

Over 5,000 people are known to have died on that route in the first five months of this year.

Agreement between EU and Mauritania 

A controversial deal was signed in March between the EU and Mauritania to combat irregular migration. Mauritania promised to reduce the number of migrants transiting through its territory in exchange for 210 million euros. Part of the Mauritanian opposition is protesting against the agreement, particularly regarding the reception and accommodation of migrants turned away or expelled from Europe. It argues the deal could ‘pose risks to the country's security by increasing pressure on limited economic resources, in addition to the spread of cross-border organised crime.’

Incredibly perilous Atlantic route

Meanwhile, a 2024 report  by the International Organization for Migration reveals that the Atlantic Ocean crossing  is incredibly dangerous due to the length of the journey to Europe, “with migrants often stuck at sea for long periods on inadequate boats in areas of the Atlantic Ocean lacking dedicated rescue operations.”

(Source various news agencies)

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05 July 2024, 13:44