Senegal: Young Men Risk All to Reach Europe

As tourism plummets and fishing nets go empty, more are attempting the treacherous 1,000 mile journey to the Canaries

[...] In October last year, a boat carrying 200 migrants exploded off the coast of Senegal, killing him and 139 others. “Now he is gone, I have no hope left.”

Their anguish has a common thread – their families were lost on one of the most dangerous sea routes in the world, which has over the past two years seen a sharp rise in travellers, as migrants and refugees from across west Africa try to reach Spanish territory in the Canary Islands from Senegal, some 1,500km (1,000 miles) south.

The route has been largely dormant since 2006, when 31,000 people made the crossing. But a clampdown on the sea routes from Morocco and Libya, controversially enforced by Libyan authorities backed by the EU, has given it a renewed attraction. In 2019 fewer than 2,700 migrants arrived in the Canaries by boat, and 210 died trying to get there. In 2020, more than 20,000 arrived.

As the number of overcrowded boats increases, so the deaths mount. About 600 people are known to have drowned making the journey in the past year, although the true figure is likely to be far higher, according to the UN’s International Organization for Migration. Every few months another tragedy occurs, leaving families in struggling communities along the coast of Senegal in mourning. Many of the stories from the women in Saint Louis follow a similar arc.

Full title‘I woke up, he was gone’: Senegal suffers as young men risk all to reach Europe
Media typeArticle
Topics Migration Routes & Transport, Perspectives on Migration
Regions West Africa

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