Over 60 people were feared dead and 38 others were rescued after a boat carrying mostly Senegalese migrants capsized off the coast of Cape Verde in the Atlantic Ocean.
According to Senegal’s foreign ministry, in a statement late on Tuesday, the boat left Senegal on July 10 with 101 passengers on board.
It says all 38 rescued people were Senegalese except one, who is from Guinea-Bissau.
The survivors were taken to the Cape Verde island of Sal.
Police said the wooden boat was seen by a Spanish fishing boat almost 320km (200 miles) off Sal who then alerted authorities.
The vessel was first spotted on Monday.
Initial reports state that the boat had sunk, but it was found drifting.
The International Organization for Migration, IOM spokesperson, Safa Msehli, told AFP that “generally when people are reported missing following a shipwreck, they are presumed dead.”
The Senegalese ministry said it was in talks with authorities in Cape Verde to work out the repatriation of its nationals.
This tragedy is not new on the Atlantic route from West Africa’s coast to the Canary Islands, where many African migrants try to reach Spain.
It is one of the most dangerous routes in the world, with at least 559 deaths in 2022 and 126 deaths or disappearances in the first half of this year, along with 15 recorded shipwrecks, according to the IOM.
In late July, at least 15 people lost their lives when a migrant boat sank near Senegal’s capital, Dakar.
The report also points out the lack of safe and regular options for migration, which allows smugglers and traffickers to exploit people and put them on these fatal journeys.
The migrants often face exploitation, abuse, and harsh conditions on board overcrowded and unfit boats.
They risk their lives for better chances, fleeing from poverty, conflict, and persecution in their home countries.
The international community needs to tackle the root causes of irregular migration, as well as offer more legal and humanitarian solutions.