"Every minute counts to find alive the more than 300 people aboard Senegalese canoes (...). We need more research resources and better collaboration between Mauritania, Spain and Morocco," Caminando Fronteras founder Helena Maleno said on Twitter on Tuesday (July 11th).
Three migrant boats, declared missing by the NGO off the Canary Islands, remain untraceable, Spanish rescuers did not locate boats in the area on Tuesday.
Spain's sea rescue service, which on Monday assisted migrants adrift off the Canary Islands, requested help from boats sailing in the area and sent one of its planes over the Atlantic Ocean, a spokeswoman told AFP.
"The plane combed the area and found nothing," she added, without being able to indicate whether the search would continue on Wednesday.
78 migrants rescued on Monday
On Monday, Spanish rescuers rescued in the same area a boat carrying 78 migrants – not 86 as they had initially indicated – who were taken care of by the Red Cross on the island of Gran Canaria.
But according to the NGO Caminando Fronteras, which takes its information from calls from migrants or their relatives, three other boats, leaving Senegal and carrying a total of more than 300 migrants, are still missing.
One of the three boats left on June 27 from Kafountine, a small coastal town in southern Senegal, about 1,700 kilometers off the coast of the Canary Islands, with about 200 people on board.
Spanish rescuers had initially indicated that the boat rescued on Monday appeared to be carrying this number of people and therefore correspond to this boat before acknowledging their mistake.
The boat rescued Monday is not among the three boats left Senegal still wanted, said Tuesday to AFP a spokesman for Caminando Fronteras.
At least 300 people are missing at sea, following the disappearance of three boats that left the #Sénégal 🇸🇳 to reach the #Canaries Islands, according to a signal launched Sunday by an association.
Details with @Julia_Dmt, journalist at @InfoMigrants_fr pic.twitter.com/BIwWTZsZQQ
— FRANCE 24 English (@France24_fr) July 10, 2023
In a statement on Tuesday, the Senegalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote that it had "learned with astonishment of the publication, on social networks, of information reporting the disappearance at sea of at least 300 Senegalese, candidates for emigration, whose boats from Kafountine were on their way to the Canary Islands".
"It appears from the verifications that have been made that this information is completely unfounded," the ministry said.
However, on Monday, the mayor of Kafountine had confirmed to AFP the departure of migrants, of whom he had no news. He said that there were among them Senegalese but also "Gambians, Guineans, Sierra Leoneans..."
See alsoSenegal: the tragedy of illegal emigration to the Canary Islands
Senegal, and more specifically the south of the country, is one of the departure points to Europe for illegal migrants.
On Tuesday, one of the main Senegalese opponents, Ousmane Sonko, attributed on Twitter this "macabre and distressing phenomenon" of the departure of illegal migrants to "the failure of the public policies of the regime of President Macky Sall".
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