Spanish rescue teams search for 300 missing people travelling by boat from Senegal to Spain as vessels
Rescue teams have already found 86 missing people from the three missing boats which was reported by an aid group
Spanish authorities have appeared to rescue more than 80 people after boats travelling from Senegal carrying hundreds were reported missing by an aid organisation.
It is believed that 300 people had attempted the journey from the west African country to the Spanish Canary Islands when the aid group Walking Borders (Caminando Fronteras) reported the three vessels as missing. Authorities rescued a total of 86 people from a boat near the Canary Islands, however Spain's Maritime Rescue Service said that it could not confirmed whether those found were on the boats that were reported missing earlier in the day.
Of those rescued by the teams, there were 80 men and six women of sub-Saharan origin. They were expected to arrive on Spanish soil on Monday (10 July) evening.
Helena Maleno Garzon, coordinator for the aid group Walking Borders (Caminando Fronteras), said that two of the boats departed from Mbour on 23 June, carrying a total of 100 people between them. A third boat then left the town of Kafountine four days later, carrying 200 people onboard.
Ms Garzon told The Associated Press: “The most important thing is to find those people. There are many people missing in the sea. This isn’t normal. We need more planes to look for them."
She added that there has been no contact with the boast since their departure.
Walking Borders also said that at least 19 boats from Senegal have arrived in Spain since June as political unrest takes hold of the country. 23 people were killed in Senegal last month amid clashes between opposition supporters and police, while the ailing economy, extremist violence and a lack of jobs are also factors contributing to the reason for leaving for many.
Ms Garzon added: “Imagine if there (were) 300 American people missing at sea. What (would) happen? Many planes will look for them."
Daw Demba, 48, found out that her two sons were planning to board one of the boats in Mbour to make the journey to Spain days before they were due to set off. She added that she had tried to convince them not to go.
Ms Demba said: “I am desperate to hear the voices of my sons. I am convinced they are still alive.
“Every moment, every second, I am still believing.”
According to the aid organisation, the route the boats would have been taking to reach Spain is one of the deadliest in the world. Around 800 people have died or been reported missing in the first half of 2023 alone after setting off on the perilous journey.
It comes as Spanish migrant rates continue increase. The Canary Islands in particular have become a hot-spot for people arriving in the country, having seen more than 7,000 migrants and refugees arriving in the first six months of 2023.