Three boats that two weeks ago left Kafountine, a coastal town in southern Senegal, with more than 300 migrants on board bound for the Spanish archipelago of the Canary Islands, are still missing. “The plane searched the area and found nothing” on Tuesday, the Spanish maritime rescue service said.
“Every minute counts to find alive the more than 300 people on board Senegalese canoes (…). We need more research resources and better cooperation between Mauritania, Spain and Morocco,” insisted Tuesday, July 11 on Twitter , the founder of Caminando Fronteras, Helena Maleno.
Three migrant boats declared missing by the NGO off the Canary Islands remain unaccounted for as Spanish rescuers found no boats in the area on Tuesday.
The Spanish maritime rescue service, which had helped migrants adrift off the Canary Islands on Monday, asked for help from boats sailing in the area and sent one of its planes to fly over that part of the Atlantic, a spokeswoman told AFP.
“The plane searched the area and found nothing,” she added, without specifying whether the search would continue Wednesday.
78 migrants rescued on Monday
On Monday, Spanish rescuers had saved in the same area a boat with 78 migrants – and not 86, as they had initially stated – which was taken care of by the Red Cross on the island of Gran Canaria.
But according to the NGO Caminando Fronteras, which gets its information from calls from migrants or their relatives, three other boats that left Senegal carrying a total of more than 300 migrants are still missing.
One of these three boats left on June 27 from Kafountine, a small coastal town in southern Senegal, located about 1,700 kilometers from the Canary Islands, with about 200 people on board.
The Spanish rescuers had initially indicated that the boat rescued on Monday appeared to be carrying this number of people and therefore corresponded to this boat, before admitting their mistake.
The boat rescued on Monday is not one of the three boats that left Senegal that are still wanted, a spokesman for Caminando Fronteras told AFP on Tuesday.
In a press release on Tuesday, the Senegalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote that it had learned with astonishment the publication on social networks of information reporting the disappearance at sea of at least 300 Senegalese, candidates for emigration, including boats that came from Kafountine, headed for De Canary Islands”.
“It appears from the checks that have been carried out that this information is completely unfounded,” says the ministry.
However, the mayor of Kafountine had confirmed to AFP on Monday that migrants had left, about which he had no news. He said that among them were Senegalese, but also “Gambians, Guineans, Sierra Leoneans…”
Senegal, and in particular the southern part of the country, is one of the departure points towards Europe for illegal migrants.
On Tuesday, one of the main Senegalese opponents, Ousmane Sonko, attributed on Twitter this “macabre and disturbing phenomenon” of the departure of illegal migrants to “the failure of the public policies of the regime of President Macky Sall”.