NOUADHIBOU, Mauritania, December 9, 2019/ — Mauritanian authorities in coordination with the governments of The Gambia and Senegal today began returning the 87 survivors of Wednesday’s fatal shipwreck to their countries of origin.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has been providing humanitarian assistance including medical and psychosocial care to the 78 Gambian and nine Senegalese migrants in Nouadhibou. Sixty-two people died when the boat, which left The Gambia a week earlier, sank.
On Friday (6/12), a second fishing boat carrying between 150 and 180 migrants was intercepted by the Mauritanian coast guard. This group will also be returned by the authorities.
The Organization advocates for migrants rescued at sea to be disembarked through predictable mechanisms and for alternatives to administrative detention to be identified.
Interceptions and search and rescue operations on the so-called Western Mediterranean Route are on the rise, says Laura Lungarotti, IOM Chief of mission in Mauritania.
“There has been a spike in interceptions since 2018,” she said. “We continue working with all authorities concerned to improve how disembarkation assistance is managed.”
IOM will continue to work with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Mauritania and The Gambia Red Cross to help families identify whether their loved ones were among the dead.