At least 58 people died on their way to Canary Islands

A boat that had departed from the Gambian town Barra in the direction of the Canary Islands in Spain capsized when it hit a rock near the coast of Mauritania in the Atlantic Ocean on December 4th, 2019. At least 58 people drowned, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). At least 83 others managed to swim to shore, including ten minors, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

The vessel was carrying about 150 people. Most of the passengers were young, between 20 and 30 years old, and most of them were from Gambia. This route from West Africa to the Canary Islands used to be one of the main routes for African migrants to start a new life in Europe. Between 2005 and 2010, thousands of people died at this sea near Mauritania coast, trying to reach the Canary Islands.

Over 35,000 Gambians arrived in Europe between 2014 and 2018, according to UNHCR. IOM estimates that some 158 people died trying to reach the Canary Islands this year, compared to 43 people last year. 

The Mediterranean Sea continues to be the deadliest border. 1,239 people have died in the Mediterranean in 2019 (from January 1st to December 10th) trying to start a new life in Europe, according to the project ‘Missing Migrants’ that tracks deaths along migratory routes.

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