Senegal navy intercepts more than 600 migrants in three days


Migrants sit aboard a boat.

Photo credit: File | AFP

The Senegalese navy intercepted more than 600 Europe-bound migrants off the country's coast in three days, according to information published by the organisation on Sunday. 

The navy said on social media that one of its patrol boats had on Saturday boarded two canoes carrying 262 passengers, including 26 women and 13 minors. 

Saturday's figure brings the total number of people intercepted to 605 in three days, after the navy stopped a boat with 272 passengers on Friday and 71 a day earlier. 

The Senegalese navy has in recent weeks stepped up its boarding and rescue operations targeting illegal migrants. 

It has intercepted 1,955 would-be migrants since July 1, according to information published on its social media.

At the end of July, Senegal's government presented a 10-year plan to combat irregular migration from the West African nation with domestic and external financing, amid heightened attention on migrants following several tragedies.

The five-pillar plan involves strengthening border management and law enforcement measures against smugglers, and helping to repatriate and reintegrate migrants in Senegal.

Thousands of Africans hoping for a better life try every year to reach Europe over the Atlantic despite the danger of the journey which kills hundreds. 

They travel aboard modest boats or motorised canoes provided by smugglers who they pay for the trip. 

Many land in the Canaries, a Spanish archipelago and a gateway to Europe.

Between January 1 and August 31, the islands saw 11,439 migrant arrivals, 7.5 percent more than over the same period in 2022, according to the Spanish Interior Ministry.

This is the highest figure for this time of year since at least 2018, and most likely since 2006.

Since the beginning of 2023, 140 migrants have died or disappeared in this crossing, according to data received from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in early September.