At least 89 dead in Mauritania boat capsize

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By Creative Media News

  • Boat capsizes off Mauritania, 89 dead
  • EU funds Mauritania to combat migration
  • Land routes increasingly deadly for migrants

According to official media, at least 89 migrants and refugees aiming for Europe died, with scores still missing, after their boat collapsed off the coast of Mauritania.

The fishing boat capsized on Monday, around 4 kilometres (2.4 miles) from Ndiago, a city on West Africa’s southern coast. The Mauritanian coastguard found 89 dead and rescued nine people, including a five-year-old girl, according to the state news agency on Thursday.

According to survivors claimed by state media, the boat left the Senegalese-Gambian border with 170 passengers on board, meaning 72 are now missing. A senior government official verified the report to the AFP news agency.

The boat capsized due to heavy winds and large waves on the treacherous Atlantic route, which is infamous for powerful currents. Migrants travel in overcrowded, often unseaworthy boats with little drinking water.

Earlier this year, the European Union promised Mauritania, a former French colony, 210 million euros ($229 million) to combat migration and provide humanitarian assistance to migrants.

The accord came amid a sharp spike in the number of migrants leaving the country for Spain’s Canary Islands, which are around 100 kilometres (62 miles) off Africa’s northwest coast.

According to Caminando Fronteras, a Spanish NGO, over 5,000 individuals died attempting to reach Spain by sea in the first five months of this year, which equates to 33 deaths every day. The great majority travelled on the Atlantic route.

Deadly land routes.

According to a recent analysis by the United Nations refugee and migration agencies and the Mixed Migration Centre research organisation, an increasing number of individuals are choosing to go by land, with deaths crossing risky routes in the Sahara estimated to be double those at sea.

Refugees and migrants are increasingly traversing areas where insurgent groups, militias and other criminal actors operate, and where human trafficking, kidnapping for ransom, forced labour and sexual exploitation are rife,” according to the report, which was issued on Friday.

The paper, examined over three years, stated that conflict and instability in countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, and Sudan are causing an increase in the number of journeys to the Mediterranean.

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According to the report, 1,180 people died while crossing the Sahara desert between January 2020 and May 2024, although the figure is likely far higher, based on testimonies from more than 31,000 people.

More than 72,000 individuals have used land routes to the Mediterranean this year alone, with 785 dying or going missing, according to UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) data.

Libya has developed as a major transit hub for those fleeing war and poverty. In March, authorities discovered a mass grave with at least 65 bodies in the country’s western deserts.

Respondents identified Algeria, Libya, and Ethiopia as the most risky transit nations.

The research documented hundreds of examples of organ removals, with some migrants agreeing to them as a way to make money.

“But most of the time, people are drugged and the organ is removed without their consent; they wake up with a missing kidney,” said UNHCR special envoy Vincent Cochetel.

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