By: Seringe ST Touray
About 101 irregular migrants, mostly Senegalese, boarded a pirogue-style boat bound for Spain. The boat was at sea for over a month before the tragic event off Cape Verde. This adds to the alarming and rising death toll of West African and other irregular migrants traveling by sea.
Mamour Ba, the brother of Cheikhouna, who was among the deceased onboard the boat bound for Spain, told the BBC that he and his family are “shocked” by the tragic loss. According to Mamour, his brother “was one of the pillars of his family.” However, despite the tragedy, 27-year-old Mamour confesses that he would attempt the perilous journey himself if it continues to be difficult or impossible to make a living in Senegal.
“I don’t have the money to take a plane. It’s better to pay 300,000 or 400,000 CFA ($500 or $665) to go to Spain than to spend millions trying to get there by plane,” Mamour told the BBC. He also mentioned that a fear of drowning is not a determining factor: “Others have made this journey and drowned, but it doesn’t deter me. It’s a risk I’m willing to take. Even if a boat were ready to go today, I would take it.”
The number of African migrants who die at sea varies significantly due to factors such as the time period, migration routes, and regional conditions. Unfortunately, many migrants, including Africans, Senegalese, and Gambians, continue to lose their lives while attempting dangerous sea crossings in search of better opportunities or refuge. While data continues to be gathered on West African migrant deaths at sea, the most up-to-date figures stand at 432 deaths from the region in 2020, 1,146 in 2021, and 205 in 2022. Additionally, in 2022, over 128 deaths with unknown nationalities were also recorded.
The house of the mayor of Fass Boye, where most of those on board the capsized boat hailed from, was set ablaze by angry protestors expressing their frustration with government authorities due to the lack of opportunities for young people.