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7/21/2008

Tragedy as more immigrant boats arrive

The perils that African immigrants face as they try to cross the unforgiving Atlantic have again been highlighted. At least six lost their lives as a boat carrying 59 people tried to reach the Canary Islands last Friday. They were found dead as their boat docked on the Santiago beach in Alajero on La Gomera. The previous Wednesday, 15 immigrants, includng nine children, lost their lives off the Almerica coastline.

The authorities believe there could be as many as 6,000 immigrants waiting to do the crossing in search of a better life despite the treacherous conditions they would have to face. Another cayuco boat carrying 66 immigrants was also intercepted just a short distance from Puerto Colón on Tenerife. Three of the occupants had to be taken to hospital. There were two children among the 66 passengers, as well as three women.
Two days before, a small boat packed with at least 148 African migrants landed on a beach on the south coast.
The flimsy fibreglass vessel arrived at La Tejita beach as windsurfers were preparing to take to the sea. They, and tourists, alerted the police.
The occupants had tried to run inland when spotted but were rounded up and detained. One man, who was dehrydrated and suffering from hypothermia, collapsed on the beach and was taken to hospital.
Guardia Civil sources and several Non-Governmental Organisations have estimated that there are as many as 6,000 people from the Sub-Sahara area who are waiting; 2,000 in Mauritania and 4,000 in Morocco, to find an illegal crossing on a boat to Spain.
The travellers journey starts in countries such as Senegal, Cameroon, Nigeria or Mali, and the longer Mauritanian route is favoured by some as there is no repatriation agreement in place with Spain.

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