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A boat with refugees

Photo: Joan Mateu Parra / dpa

At least 300 people on three refugee boats have been missing in the Atlantic for days, according to the aid organization "Walking Borders". The migrants had set off from Senegal in the direction of Tenerife, the organization said. Two ships, one with about 65 people and the other with just under 50 to 60 people on board, had been missing for 15 days.

A third boat left Senegal on June 27 with about 200 people. The families of the refugees have not heard from their relatives since their departure. All three boats had started in Kafountine in Senegal's south. From there it is about 1700 kilometers across the Atlantic to Tenerife and the Canary Islands.

People fleeing instability in the country

The families are very worried, Helena Maleno of "Walking Borders" told the Reuters news agency. The approximately 300 people had fled from the same area in Senegal and because of the instability in the country.

The Canary Islands with Tenerife off the coast of West Africa are an important destination for refugees on their way to Spain. As a rule, the Atlantic migration route is used by people from sub-Saharan Africa. According to the UN, at least 2022 people died trying to reach the Canary Islands in 559.

Many boats depart from Mauritania

At its narrowest point, the Canary Islands are only a hundred kilometers from Morocco. Most refugees, however, start the crossing further south, from Mauritania.

Due to the strong currents, the route is extremely dangerous. Despite the danger to their lives, people in small, often barely seaworthy boats dare to cross the open Atlantic from North Africa to the Canary Islands and thus to the European Union.