Three refugee boats with no fewer than 300 people on board went missing in the sea between Africa and Spain’s Canary Islands, Helena Maleno of the Spanish aid organisation Ca-minando Fronteras, said on Monday.
Maleno said the two boats, each with up to 60 people on board, left Senegal on June 23 for the Canary Islands, and a third with about 200 people left the coastal town of Kafountine on June 27.
The organisation was in contact with the relatives of the missing people, who had not heard from the people on board.
“We are very worried because after the unrest in Senegal in June and because of political persecution, people are even less prepared than usual to flee in a hurry.”
In June, 19 boats with refugees from Senegal arrived on the Canary Islands, while not one had been registered since the beginning of the year.
Maleno criticised Spain for only using one search plane, which was only in the air for a few hours per day.
There is also a lack in cooperation with Morocco, “which only works to ward off refugees but not to rescue them,” she complained.
“If 300 Germans were missing in the Atlantic, there would be a huge search operation,” she added.
Kafountine is about 1,700 kilometres from the Spanish island group, and the Atlantic Ocean with its strong currents and high waves is considered one of the most dangerous migration routes to Europe.