Missing Senegalese migrants found in Mauritanian city

2018-07-20 17:50
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

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Senegalese migrants feared missing in the Mauritanian desert after their boat washed ashore have been found safe and well in the country's second-largest city, a security source said on Friday.

"Twenty were found in (Nouadhibou) in several neighbourhoods where they sought refuge," the source told AFP, adding that another six or seven members of the group were still being sought.

The migrants had been travelling with another 75 Senegalese, including two women, who "were intercepted on the way to the city or near their boat, which washed up on Mauritanian shores after five days at sea," regional police chief Mohammed Abdallahi Ould Taleb told a news conference on Wednesday.

It is thought the migrants were trying to reach Spain's Canary Islands.

The boat had passed Mauritania and reached Moroccan waters when its engine failed, a young Senegalese migrant told the news conference.

The current then carried the boat back towards Mauritania, where it ran aground late on Monday, he said.

Most of those on board were picked up by police on the seashore, but several managed to flee before security forces arrived, and they were thought to have hidden in nearby caves or headed into the surrounding desert.

Ould Taleb said several passengers were treated for "extreme fatigue" while awaiting repatriation to Senegal.

The Canaries, around 100km off of Morocco, were among the main clandestine migration routes to the European Union in the mid-2000s, before sub-Saharan Africans began favouring Mediterranean routes to Spain or Italy.

But with the route through Libya shutting down as the Libyan coastguard increases patrols, people smugglers are setting their sights westward.

Northern Senegal has seen a surge in departures, often organised with the complicity of local fishermen, according to a Senegalese border police official.

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Read more on:    mauritania  |  senegal  |  west africa

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