PM urges youth to stay in Africa after migrant boat sinks

PM urges youth to stay in Africa after migrant boat sinks
PM urges youth to stay in Africa after migrant boat sinks

Senegalese Prime Minister Ousmane Sonko on Saturday called on young people not to take the perilous Atlantic route to Europe, a few days after the deadly sinking of a migrant boat off the coast of Mauritania.

Nearly 90 migrants bound for Europe died when their ship capsized this week and dozens are missing in the tragedy, the latest in a long series of deaths on the dangerous crossing off the coast of West Africa.

“Yet another shipwreck has occurred off our coasts and which, while waiting to have the exact figures, would have cost the lives of many young people,” declared Mr. Sonko during a speech at Gaston Berger University in Saint Louis (north) broadcast on his Facebook page.

“It’s a shame, it’s deplorable. I appeal again to the youth: your solution is not found in the canoes,” he added, speaking in front of hundreds of young people.

On Thursday, Mauritania’s official news agency reported that the coastguard had recovered the bodies of 89 people from a large traditional fishing boat that capsized off the country’s southwest coast on Monday.

The agency cited survivors as saying the boat had left the Gambia-Senegal border with 170 passengers on board, bringing the number of missing people to 72.

A senior local official gave similar figures to AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Atlantic route is particularly dangerous because of its strong currents and because migrants travel on overloaded boats, sometimes unseaworthy, and often lacking drinking water.

But it is increasingly being used because of the increased surveillance in the Mediterranean by young people looking for a better future in Europe.

“The countries that some young people want to go to, I can assure you that they are themselves in crisis or at the beginning of a crisis,” Mr. Sonko assured on Saturday.

“The future of the world is in Africa, and you young people must be aware of this. The only continent that still has significant room for progress and growth is Africa,” he said.

More than 5,000 people died trying to reach Spain by sea in the first five months of the year, or 33 deaths per day, according to Caminando Fronteras, a Spanish NGO.

This is the highest number of daily deaths since the NGO began collecting data in 2007.

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