Saturday, April 20, 2024

Gambian migrants’ arrivals on the Canary Islands spike amid soaring deaths at sea

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By: Hadram Hydara

From January to October 2023, a total of 18 boats carrying 2,345 migrants departed from The Gambia and arrived at the shores of Spain, Yahya Sonko, a migration activist based in Germany, told The Fatu Network.

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This week, reports emerged of a group of 221 Gambian migrants attempting to reach Spain by boat off the coast of Bakau, with over 20 of them losing their lives in the Mediterranean.

As of October 15th, the Canary Islands have seen an unprecedented influx of migrants, with the latest official data from the Spanish Ministry of Interior revealing that a staggering 30,400 individuals have arrived on the islands in 2023.

The majority of these migrants have come from the neighbouring countries of The Gambia and Senegal.

According to Sonko, an activist involved in migration issues, an increasing number of women, minors, and even pregnant women are taking the risk of embarking on dangerous boats to Spain from The Gambia.

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He accused The Gambia government of lacking the will to curb irregular migration via the Mediterranean. He noted that the government only reacts after tragedy strikes.

“The Gambia Government is making very little or no effort about it. As usual, they will wait till a tragedy happens before they react.

“[The] Gambia is a very small country, and we all know that boat trips are organised in our communities. Where are the SIS, immigration department, and navy? Why can’t they track the smugglers and organisers of these boat trips?“

A publication by Walking Borders revealed that in the first six months of 2023, 951 migrants lost their lives attempting to reach Spain but despite the deaths, migration from The Gambia and Senegal to Spain has been on a steady increase.

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