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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Lethal Boat Wreck in Senegal Brought on by Patrols Chasing Migrants


When a fisherman confirmed up for work on a latest morning at a well-liked seashore in Dakar, the capital of the West African nation of Senegal, he discovered a horrifying scene: Lifeless our bodies splayed throughout the sand, and a painted picket boat bobbing unattended.

He plunged into the water to assist seek for survivors. The pirogue, a picket fishing boat, had been loaded with migrants hoping to succeed in Spain, however as a substitute it struck a hoop of underwater rocks within the early morning hours of July 24.

At the least 16 our bodies have been recovered — the most recent in a string of tragedies to befall folks risking the treacherous ocean path to Europe.

This boat, nonetheless, was being chased by patrol vessels from Spain and Senegal in close to whole darkness when it hit the rocks, in line with a witness who was on the seashore and the chief of a neighborhood assist group who has spoken with survivors. The deputy mayor for the realm additionally mentioned in an interview that the boat was being pursued.

“This might have been prevented,” mentioned the fisherman, Pape Djibril Samb, who was among the many lifeguards, exercisers and different fishermen who’re regulars on the seashore however helped retrieve our bodies.

Senegalese officers mentioned they’re investigating, and declined to remark. A spokesman for Spain’s inside ministry, who declined to be named consistent with the ministry’s coverage, denied in an electronic mail {that a} Spanish patrol vessel pursued the pirogue, saying their patrol boat alerted Senegalese authorities on land {that a} boat was sinking after it ran aground.

The tragedy at a seashore beloved by runners and fishmongers, on the foot of the towering Mosque of the Divinity, shocked a nation accustomed to listening to about lethal occasions involving boats leaving Senegal full of folks heading for Spain, typically through the Spanish Canary Islands. In simply June and July, no less than 547 folks died in boats that left from Senegal, in line with a tally from the Spanish assist group Strolling Borders.

Patrols on the water have been rising in latest months, mentioned native assist teams. They fear that new sources dedicated to stopping migration will result in extra harmful conditions.

The accident raises tough questions on how finest to reply to the more and more lethal disaster of irregular migration, and reveals how some aggressive efforts to curb arrivals can backfire.

European nations are stepping up efforts to intercept migrants lengthy earlier than they get close to their very own shorelines, and Senegal, which restricts migration by boat, is a part of the hassle. On Aug. 4, the E.U.’s ambassador to Senegal joined Senegal’s inside minister to inaugurate a brand new headquarters for Senegal’s air and border police — a part of 9 million euro, or $9.9 million, effort with Spain and France to assist cease unlawful migration.

Different sources from Europe have already arrived, together with coaching and high-tech gear for Senegalese border police.

Senegal has but to resolve whether or not to simply accept a 2022 proposal from the European Fee to deploy Frontex, the E.U. border management company. The plan would flood the realm with extra sources to fight unlawful migration, however has been denounced by native teams that demand extra authorized pathways for shifting overseas.

For the migrants on the pirogue off Dakar, the fear unfolded within the early morning darkness no more than 50 yards from shore.

The witness mentioned he was on the seashore when he heard screaming. He couldn’t be recognized by title as a result of he fears angering Senegalese authorities. The New York Occasions talked to employees on the seashore who mentioned he had informed them the identical model of occasions that morning.

The witness mentioned he rushed to seek out our bodies within the water and a rocking pirogue, with two navy vessels behind it shining floodlights on the scene and attempting to drag aboard struggling folks.

On the identical time, the person mentioned, dozens of individuals made it to shore and started operating away.

He mentioned he instantly phoned the police, who informed him the pirogue within the water was the identical boat that each Senegalese and Spanish ships had been pursuing. He stayed on the seashore to drag in our bodies. He additionally talked with one of many survivors, whose legs and toes have been lined in sea urchin spines. He wanted medical consideration, and police finally took him to a hospital.

He mentioned the survivor informed him patrol vessels had been pursuing their fishing boat, and the captain had been hurriedly attempting to navigate to the seashore so everybody might escape by land, slightly than face arrest.

The witness mentioned {that a} white man talking Spanish into his cell phone arrived on the seashore that morning in a four-by-four car, and instantly approached the police on the scene.

The small bay the place the episode unfolded is lined by a hoop of volcanic rocks well-known to the fishermen who work there, however almost not possible to see at night time. The water is deep the place the boat spilled; individuals who helped get well our bodies say the lifeless almost definitely couldn’t swim.

Samba Kandji, deputy mayor of the realm the place the accident occurred, was on the seashore following the incident, and mentioned the police informed him the boat had been pursued. He didn’t know which nation the patrol vessels got here from.

On the morning of the deaths, Village du Migrant, a neighborhood group that helps households trying to find lacking migrants, posted on Fb providing to assist determine the lifeless, urging households to ship photographs and descriptions of their family members to a cellphone quantity supplied by the group.

Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba Fall, the president of the group, mentioned that survivors who had run away known as in, they usually reported that the boat had been pursued by Spanish and Senegalese vessels.

“They may have prevented this example by not chasing the boat,” Mr. Fall mentioned of the patrols.

Two survivors who remained on the seashore have been handled for his or her accidents, and are in police custody, he mentioned. Different survivors informed Mr. Fall they have been frightened of being jailed like the 2 survivors discovered on the seashore, and declined interviews with the The New York Occasions.

Mr. Fall mentioned the rise in patrols has prompted extra Europe-bound boats to embark from much less generally used factors alongside the shoreline, hoping to evade detection. These launch factors are generally extra harmful than well-known launching spots, he mentioned.

Mr. Fall mentioned the survivors he spoke with informed him that their boat, full of folks, left from Thiaroye, a suburb of Dakar.

The Spanish Inside Ministry spokesman, pointed to knowledge collected as of July 31 that confirmed a lower of three.3 p.c of unlawful arrivals to Spain within the final 12 months. He attributed the decline to the bilateral cooperation between Senegal and Spain.

Nonetheless, as local weather change shrivels crops and rising sea temperatures threaten fish shares, the numerous Senegalese who make their livings farming and fishing could contemplate fleeing.

The pirogue that hit the rocks in Dakar, painted in swirls of reds, yellows and blues, hung within the water for days after the accident, a haunting, half-submerged reminder of a possible consequence of migrating by sea.

Ibrahim Pape Ndour, a fisherman, sat along with his crewmen on that seashore on a latest afternoon in a cabana mending their turquoise internet that had been severed by a large trawler. Their work yields a lot much less fish than previously, Mr. Ndour mentioned, blaming overfishing and plastic within the ocean.

He had helped to seek for our bodies from the pirogue that hit the rocks. However even he has desires of Europe.

“Carry a ship proper now, you’ll see. We’d all go,” he mentioned, pointing to his crew. “Loss of life is simple.”

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