By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
MADRID (Worthy News) – Spain’s coastguard said Tuesday it was searching for three boats carrying hundreds of migrants reported lost at sea after it managed to rescue scores of people from another vessel.
Rescuers searched waters off the Canary Islands for a boat carrying at least 200 African migrants that went missing more than a week ago. Another two ships with over 100 migrants on board were missing for over two weeks, officials said.
“For the moment, we’ve not found anything,” said Spanish coastguard spokeswoman Salvamento Maritimo.
She told reporters that the coastguard deployed a rescue plane during the morning and had requested help from other ships navigating in the area.
During their searches on Monday, rescuers found a boat carrying 78 sub-Saharan migrants who were taken to shore at Gran Canaria island, she said. They had initially thought there were 86 on board.
As the search continued, few details about two boats, with one carrying about 65 people and the other between 50 and 60, officials said. The two vessels were reportedly missing for 15 days since they left Senegal to try to reach Spain.
A third boat left Senegal on June 27 with about 200 people aboard, according to rescuers, bringing the total number of people missing across the three vessels to more than 300.
The humanitarian group Walking Borders said the third vessel sailed from Kafountine, a coastal town in southern Senegal, about 1,700 km (1,057 miles) from Tenerife.
Walking Borders said there “are many children on board.”
Tuesday’s news of a potential tragedy came weeks after Europe experienced one of its worst migrant shipwrecks in the Mediterranean when a fishing boat sank off the Greek coast, killing hundreds.
At least 78 people were confirmed dead, but the United Nations reported that up to 500 are still missing and are presumed dead.
The Atlantic route to the Canaries is dangerous due to the strong currents, experts say. Many migrants travel in overloaded boats, which are often unseaworthy, and without enough drinking water, according to aid workers.
Many boats leave from the shores of Morocco, Western Sahara, or Mauritania, but they also come from countries further south, such as Senegal.
Atlantic crossings began surging in late 2019 after increased patrols along Europe’s southern coast dramatically reduced Mediterranean crossings.
Pope Francis, who 10 years ago visited the Italian island of Lampedusa, where also many migrants arrive, appealed for “solidarity and humanity” towards the numerous migrants risking their lives at sea to reach European soil.
Italy and Spain are also Catholic-majority nations, and churches have been involved in supporting migrants and refugees.
There is a growing discussion within the European Union about dealing with the ongoing influx of migrants fleeing war, persecution, and poverty.
EU member state Hungary refused to support Brussels-proposed migrants and refugee quota for each member state to ease the burdens for nations with many asylum seekers.
Hungary built a huge fence along the border with Serbia and forces most asylum seekers to apply for asylum in a few Hungarian embassies, except for Ukrainian refugees.
In the Netherlands, the government collapsed over proposed measures to reduce the number of migrants and refugees seeking protection.
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