“Tragedy. At least 44 victims drowned off the coast of Tarfaya (southern Morocco),” the aid agency’s Helena Maleno tweeted on Saturday.
🔴 TRAGEDIA. Al menos cuarenta y cuatro víctimas en un naufragio en las costas de Tarfaya. La neumática con sesenta y una personas, entre ellas dieciséis mujeres y siete bebés, volcó cuando intentaban llegar a Canarias.
— Helena Maleno Garzón (@HelenaMaleno) March 12, 2022
They were among 61 migrants who boarded a boat heading for Spain’s Canary Islands, around 100 kilometres (62 miles) away from Tarfaya.
A total of 16 women and seven babies were among those on board, Maleno said.
“The bodies of three women and two babies are now at the morgue of Laayoune,” the main city in the disputed Western Sahara territory. The rest are still missing.
The North African kingdom of Morocco is a key transit point on routes taken by migrants hoping for better lives on European shores.
According to the Spanish interior ministry, more than 40,000 migrants arrived in the country by sea in 2021.
The European Union said this week it wanted to bolster cooperation with Morocco to stem the flow of illegal migrants entering the bloc, amid a sharp jump in attempts to reach the Canary Islands — a gateway to the EU.