In Mauritania, at least 58 people, including women and children, were killed after a boat carrying dozens of migrants capsized in the Atlantic Ocean off the West African nation, the UN’s migration agency said.
The boat carrying at least 150 people was low on fuel while approaching Mauritania before it capsized, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.
It said 83 people swam to shore. The survivors were being helped by Mauritanian authorities in the northern city of Nouadhibou, IOM said. Survivors said the boat left The Gambia on November 27.
Despite Gambia’s small size, more than 35,000 Gambian migrants arrived in Europe between 2014 and 2018, according to the IOM.
While the Mediterranean Sea remains a deadly route for migrants attempting to reach the European Union, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has warned earlier this year that the journey to reach the Ocean remains far more lethal.
The Gambia’s leader of 22 years, Yahya Jammeh, used to give Gambians good cause for claiming asylum, even if the majority were fleeing poverty rather than persecution.
But with the autocratic president’s exit, Gambians’ grounds for international protection have suddenly become shakier, making them prime EU targets for rapid return, although they are not the only ones.
Gambians are one of the top nationalities among the 93,000 mainly West African and Asian migrants who have arrived in Italy already this year.