12 more people die trying to reach Canary Islands

Twelve more people have died amid a spike in journeys from northwestern Africa to Spain’s Canary Islands, a Spanish migration NGO said on Monday.

At least 50 people were making the dangerous journey to Europe on a dingy. But midway, the passengers noticed the raft started to deflate. One passenger called a family member on a satellite phone, who got in touch with the nongovernmental organization, Walking Borders. The organization later contacted the Spanish Coast Guard, Helena Maleno, the director of Walking Borders, told Spanish news agency EFE.

By the time rescue teams arrived, roughly nine hours after the dinghy began to sink, 12 or 13 people had already drowned. “The sea swallowed their bodies,” Maleno tweeted.

She told EFE that Spanish authorities probably helped save the remaining 38 passengers, who were transferred to the island of Fuerteventura.

The only person Spanish authorities pulled from the water was a Moroccan man. It appears that he was a local fisherman trying to help rescue the migrants.

All the rest of those rescued were from sub-Saharan Africa. There were 32 men and six women. Maleno said three women died.

The tragic rescue comes amid a dramatic spike in migrant arrivals to the Canary Islands. This weekend, 1,282 people were rescued while making the journey.

As of August’s end, almost 22,000 migrants had arrived in Spain by sea this year — surpassing the total for all of 2022, the Interior Ministry said. Walking Borders estimates that 778 individuals lost their lives on this route in the first half of 2023.

According to Interior Ministry data from the first eight months of the year, most migrants who arrive in Spain by sea are from Morocco and Algeria. However, amid increased political stability, Senegalese arrivals now make up 14% of these arrivals, a sharp increase from 2022, when they only accounted for 1%.

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