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Senegal PM Calls On Youths To Stay In Africa After Migrant Tragedy

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Senegal’s Prime Minister Ousmane Sonko on Saturday implored young people not to attempt the perilous Atlantic route to Europe, days after scores of would-be migrants perished when their boat capsized off Mauritania.

Nearly 90 migrants bound for Europe died after their boat overturned earlier this week, with dozens reported missing in the latest tragedy to occur in the notoriously dangerous crossing off West Africa.

“Yet another shipwreck occurred off our coast, and while we await the exact figures, it is thought to have cost the lives of many young people,” Sonko said during a speech at Gaston Berger University in the northern city of Saint-Louis, broadcast on his official Facebook page.

“It’s a shame, it’s deplorable. I’d like to make another appeal to young people: your solution does not lie in dug-out canoes,” he added, speaking in front of hundreds of young people.

On Thursday, Mauritania’s state news agency said the coastguard had recovered the bodies of 89 people aboard a large traditional fishing boat that had capsized off the country’s southwest coast on Monday.

The agency quoted survivors saying that the boat had set sail from the border of Senegal and The Gambia with 170 passengers on board, bringing the number of missing to 72 after the coast guard rescued nine people.

A senior local government official gave AFP similar information, on condition of anonymity.

The Atlantic route is particularly dangerous due to strong currents, with migrants travelling in overloaded, often unseaworthy, boats without enough drinking water.

But it has grown in popularity due to increased vigilance in the Mediterranean, with many young people taking the route in hope of a better future in Europe.

“I can assure you that the countries that some young people want to join are themselves in crisis or at the beginning of a crisis,” Sonko said Saturday.

“The future of the world lies in Africa, and you young people need to be aware of this. The only continent that still has room for progress and significant growth is Africa,” he added.

More than 5,000 migrants died while trying to reach Spain by sea in the first five months of this year, or the equivalent of 33 deaths per day, according to Caminando Fronteras, a Spanish charity.

That is the highest daily number of deaths since it began collating figures in 2007, and the vast majority were on the Atlantic route.



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