Senegal president orders urgent steps to stem migrant sea crossings
A fisherman pulls a rope as they try to move a beached pirogue in Dakar on August 9, 2023, in which 17 migrants lost their lives after it capsized off the coast of Dakar a month ago, allegedly on its way to the Canary Islands. (Photo by JOHN WESSELS / AFP)
(AFP) - Senegalese President Macky Sall has ordered emergency measures be taken to halt growing numbers of migrants leaving the West African country in small boats headed for Europe.
Sall instructed the government to introduce "emergency security, economic, financial and social measures to neutralise emigrant departures", a statement said late on Wednesday after a cabinet meeting.
It gave no details on what measures could be taken but said these must involve the interior, armed forces, youth and fisheries ministers.
It also referred to a 10-year plan presented by Senegal at the end of July to combat irregular migration with domestic and external financing.
Senegal is struggling to stem a flow of people attempting to reach the Canaries, a Spanish archipelago and a gateway to Europe, by sea, often in long wooden fishing vessels known as pirogues.
Reports about arrivals of pirogues, their interception or rescues at sea appear in the Senegalese media several times a week.
The previously announced strategy was unveiled following several tragedies, and irregular migration has become a campaign issue ahead of next year's presidential election.
Data from Spain's interior ministry shows 30,705 migrants reached the Canaries between January 1 and October 31, more than double the number of arrivals for the same period last year.
Two thirds originate from sub-Saharan Africa, according to the European Union border agency Frontex.
Senegalese and Moroccans make up the biggest groups among new arrivals, the agency and several Spanish NGOs say.
© Agence France-Presse