DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Dozens are feared dead after a boat carrying migrants sank off Mauritania’s coast, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency.
Approximately 40 people were on board the vessel that sank off the coast of Nouadhibou, Mauritania, U.N. Refugee Agency Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean Vincent Cochetel said on Twitter Thursday.
There is one survivor from Guinea, he said. Further details were not yet available.
“UNHCR & IOM along with authorities & partners are trying to step up efforts to prevent such tragedies, but traffickers keep lying to their clients,” Cochetel wrote in the tweet.
Those aboard the vessel were migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, confirmed U.N. Refugee Agency Africa spokesman Charlie Yaxley. U.N. officials are at the site providing assistance, he said.
“These are the awful consequences of immoral and unscrupulous smugglers and traffickers arranging these desperate sea journeys,” he wrote on Twitter.
In December, 63 people died when a migrant boat capsized off the Mauritania coast in one of the deadliest disasters in 2019 of young Africans trying to reach Europe.
At least 83 survivors swam through rough seas to shore after the boat capsized. Some 150 migrants, including children, had been on the boat for about a week after it left Gambia. The boat was trying to reach Spain’s Canary Islands but diverted toward Mauritania as fuel and food ran low, the U.N. migration agency said at the time.
Thousands had died off Mauritania’s coast in attempts to reach the Canary Islands between 2005 and 2010, but then there were fewer attempts through that route. Last year, however, authorities detained boats off Mauritania's coast carrying hundreds of migrants.