• Hithesh Jain

140 migrants drown off Senegalese coast - UN confirms

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

Sravanthi Neralla

3rd November 2020

Dakar– A boat en route Canary Islands carrying 200 migrants catches fire and capsizes on Saturday. The International Organisation for Migration — A United Nations Organisation, calls it the ‘deadliest’ shipwreck of 2020.

According to The New York Times, the boat with 200 migrants left the coast of Mbour for the Canary Islands on Saturday but unfortunately sank in the Atlantic Ocean later that day. The boat is said to have caught fire a few hours after leaving the coastal town of Mbour in western Senegal. The boat reportedly capsized in the Atlantic Ocean near St. Louis — Senegal’s north-western coast.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) reported that 59 migrants were rescued by navies and fishermen hailing from Senegal and Spain. They also managed to collect the remains of 20 others. ‘At least 140 people have drowned’- they confirmed. Immediate physical and psychological assistance has been arranged for the victims by the government of Senegal and IOM.

When asked about the accident by the local news media IGFM, Dame Mbengue— one of the survivors— said that the crew managed to ‘control the flames’ after the engine caught fire, but the fire ‘spread to cans of gasoline’, which caused a major explosion.

The United Nations in an article by the UN News said that they were 'deeply saddened' by this accident. This tragedy comes after four other shipwrecks recorded in the Central Mediterranean last week and one in the English Channel.

Bakary Doumbia — IOM Senegal's Chief of Mission — 'calls for unity between governments' and the international community to put an end to trafficking and smuggling networks' that take advantage of desperate youth. He also added that it is crucial to advocate for 'enhanced legal channels' to undermine the trafficker's business model and to prevent loss of life.

The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres took to Twitter to express his condolences and said, "Every person searching for a better life deserves safety and dignity". "We need safe, legal routes for migrants and refugees" He added.

(Sources – The New York Times, The Wire, UN news, IGFM)

Edited by – Hithesh Jain

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