In a report published on Tuesday, Caminando Fronteras (Walking Borders) found 2,087 people, had died or gone missing while trying to reach Spain by sea in the first six months of the year.
The NGO estimates more than 2,000 people died or disappeared trying to reach the country in the first six months of 2021. Almost as many as perished in attempts in all of last year.
The numbers include 341 women and 96 children. In 2020, 2,170 migrants and refugees lost their lives or disappeared en route to the country.
Caminando Fronteras said the six month figures for 2021 were the worst it had recorded in the 14 years it has been tracking and helping to rescue people leaving Africa for Spain.
Most dangerous crossings
The route to the Canary Islands, in the Atlantic ocean, has proved the most fatal this year. There have been 1,922 fatalities in 57 shipwrecks. Other routes are the Alborán sea route – 93 deaths in nine wrecks, the strait of Gibraltar route – 36 deaths in nine wrecks and the Algerian route 26 deaths in four wrecks.
The dead were citizens of 18 countries. They included Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Nigeria, DRC, Burkina Faso, Syria and Bangladesh.
The head of the NGO, Helena Maleno, called for the governments of Spain, Morocco, Mauritania and Algeria to act now.
“We are calling on all the relevant governments, and especially the Spanish government, to hold an urgent meeting of the relevant ministries because there’s an urgent need to defend life on the Canaries route,” said Maleno. “That need must be addressed and steps taken so that we don’t have such shameful figures over the next six months.”
There is an increase in the number of women and children on the Canaries route.
Caminando Fronteras fields distress calls from people crossing from Africa. They then pass on their details so the coast guards and maritime rescue services can rescue them.
The NGO also charts and logs missing vessels. Further, it works with relatives and the authorities to identify the missing and the dead. Of those who die or go missing, 95% of the bodies are not recovered.
Spanish police arrest two people over deaths of migrants
Spanish police arrested two people over their alleged roles in the deaths of more than 20 people. They had been trying to reach the Canary Islands. Among the dead was a five-year-old-girl.
The two arrested were among 29 people rescued from a vessel on 30th June, that had been adrift for 13 days.
Spain’s interior ministry says 6,952 migrants arrived in the Canaries between January and June this year. That is compared with 2,706 over the same period in 2020.
The Canary Islands’ infrastructure was placed under enormous pressure last year with the arrival of over 23,000 migrants and refugees. In 2019, the figure had been 2,687.