Senegal navy intercepts migrant boats as more risk perilous journey

By Borso Tall

SAINT LOUIS, Senegal (Reuters) – The Senegalese Navy said on Sunday it had stopped two more boats carrying 262 would-be migrants late the previous night, taking the total to five boats intercepted and over 600 people rescued by a navy patrol boat since Thursday.

Those rescued included 26 women and 13 minors, the navy said in a post on social media platform X, sharing photos of dozens of people on a patrol boat and others seated in rows on a quay.

The successive rescues comes during the busy summer season when thousands of migrants brave the hundreds of miles of ocean separating Africa from Europe each year in a desperate search for a better life.

In August, only 37 survived after a migrant boat carrying 101 people from Senegal was found to have been adrift in the ocean without fuel for weeks.

From Senegal, they leave fishing villages and towns along the country’s Atlantic shorelines in brightly painted fishing vessels for the open ocean, overloaded with people with no shelter from the elements.

Another fishing boat on Saturday carrying more than a hundred people from the south of the country ran aground in the coastal city of Saint Louis when it was forced to turn around by high winds, witnesses said.

Videos shared on X showed the boat being tossed by waves close to a beach as dozens of would-be migrants jump off and try to swim ashore.

“We were at the beach chilling when suddenly we saw a pirogue arriving with migrants on board. When they got closer to the shore, they were frantically jumping into the water,” said Fallou Ndir, a 19-year old Saint Louis resident. “We all rushed to witness this although here, it’s common.”

The migrants jump off to avoid arrest by the navy, he said, adding that they blend into the population and disappear once on dry land.

On Sunday morning a Reuters reporter saw the abandoned boat on the Saint Louis beach being stripped apart by young men who plan to use the wood to rebuild another boat.

(Reporting by Borso Tall; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Hugh Lawson)