Negligence may have led to 36 migrant deaths in the Canary Islands, lawsuit alleges
A lawsuit has alleged that negligence could have resulted in the deaths of migrants whose boat sank after waiting for 10 hours for assistance off the Canary Islands.
Prosecutors in Gran Canaria are investigating potential crimes, including failure to provide help. In June, a tragic incident saw 36 people lose their lives while attempting to reach the islands in an inflatable boat. Several recent events have drawn attention to Europe’s response to migration.
Spanish rescue officials faced criticism for not intervening, as a Spanish search and rescue ship was reportedly close to the dinghy. However, the operation was taken over by Moroccan officials, and a patrol boat arrived 10 hours later, rescuing 24 survivors from the sinking boat.
The incident occurred about 100 miles southeast of Gran Canaria island. Spain’s coastal rescue service stated that they were unaware of the danger the vessel’s occupants were in due to the waters being monitored jointly by Spain and Morocco.
The Canary Islands, although part of Spain, are located off the western coast of Africa, and many migrants journey from Africa to the archipelago with hopes of reaching mainland Europe.
The Western Africa-Atlantic route is considered one of the world’s deadliest migration passages, and at least 543 migrants died or went missing on that journey in 2022, according to the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
The incident comes as Europe’s response to migration is being held under increased scrutiny following the sinking of a migrant boat off the coast of Greece in June.
Greece’s coastguard came under fire for their handling of the tragedy, after the BBC obtained evidence casting doubt on their version of events.
The UN has called for an investigation into Greece’s handling of the disaster, amid claims more action should have been taken earlier to initiate a full-scale rescue attempt.
Earlier this week, 86 people were rescued by the Spanish coast guard off the coast of the Canary Islands. There are also more than 300 people still missing at sea on three boats, after setting off from Senegal two weeks ago.