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Boat carrying Gambian migrants, including women and children, capsizes near Mauritanian coast, killing 58 Open in fullscreen

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Boat carrying Gambian migrants, including women and children, capsizes near Mauritanian coast, killing 58

Over 35 000 Gambian migrants arrived in Europe between 2014-2018 [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 December, 2019

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A boat carrying at least 150 Gambia migrants has capsized near Mauritania, after days of being stranded without fuel. At least 58 have died, with survivors swimming to shore
At least 58 people, including women and children, have been killed when a boat carrying migrants from the small coastal nation of Gambia capsized in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Mauritania.

According to the International Organisation for Migration the boat, which had left Gambia on 27 November, carried at least 150 people, 83 of whom managed to swim to shore.

Survivors are now being aided by Mauritanian authorities in the second largest city in Mauritania, Noudhibou, situated north of the country.

Laura Lungarotti, chief of mission in Mauritania with the UN migration agency, told The Associated Press that the boat was heading to the Canary Islands when it approached the Mauritanian coast to secure food and fuel.

While the number of injured treated in Nouadhibou remains unknown, Lungarotti maintains that the Mauritanian authorities are "very efficiently" coordinating the survivor response with the agencies stationed there.

Leonard Doyle, spokesperson for IOM, told Al Jazeera that the boat was unseaworthy and overcrowded when it overturned.

He added that survivors would likely be returned to Gambia, describing the tragedies such as these lacking any "happy solution for people who take these routes".

Gambian authorities have not issued any statement on the matter, the small nation from which the migrants hail.

The disaster is one of the deadliest among migrants attempting to make the perilous journey to Europe, in search of work and a better livelihood.

Over 35,000 Gambian migrants arrived in Europe between 2014-2018, according the UN migration agency.

A 22-year oppressive rule by President Yahya Hammeh has left the economy in tatters. The youth of Gambia have been hit hardest, leading to a large outflow of young migrants to Europe.

Since Hammeh fled to exile in Jan 2017, ceding power to  Adama Barrow and ending his country’s political crisis, European countries have tried hide to return asylum seekers.

Read more: Gambia’s Jammeh leaves power after 22 years

Gambia was shaken this year after the collapse of the British travel company Thomas Cook.

Gambia's tourism minister at the time declared that the government had convened an emergency meeting to discuss the collapse.

Locals see the collapse as severely detrimental to the tourism industry, which contributes approximately 30 percent of the country's GDP.

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