At least 140 people have drowned after a vessel carrying around 200 migrants sank off the Senegalese coast, according to the UN migration agency.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Thursday that Senegalese and Spanish navies, and fishermen who were nearby managed to rescue 59 people and retrieve remains of 20 others.
“We call for unity between governments, partners and the international community to dismantle trafficking and smuggling networks that take advantage of desperate youth,” Bakary Doumbia, the IOM Senegal chief of mission said.
“It is also important that we advocate for enhanced legal channels to undermine the traffickers’ business model and prevent loss of life,” he added.
The IOM said the incident followed four other shipwrecks recorded in the Central Mediterranean last week and another in the English Channel.
The agency said in September alone, 26% of the 14 boats carrying 663 migrants that left the West African country for the Canary Islands were reported to have experienced an incident or shipwreck.
It estimated that “there have been roughly 11,000 arrivals to the Canary Islands this year compared to 2,557 arrivals during the same period last year. This is still far below peaks seen in 2006 when over 32,000 people arrived.”
The West African region is a dynamic migratory patterns and has had a long history of intraregional, as well as interregional, migration flows, according to the IOM.
West Africa provides the strongest example of intraregional migration flows in sub-Saharan Africa, with 70% of migratory movements mainly linked to employment taking place within the sub-region.