October 3, 2018 / 1:01 PM / 12 days ago

Guinea-Bissau coast guard fears 60 migrants drowned off the coast

BISSAU (Reuters) - Around 60 migrants are missing and believed drowned after their boat was seen sinking off the coast of Guinea-Bissau, a coast guard commander said on Wednesday.

The sea passage from West Africa to Spain’s Canary Islands was once a major route for migrants seeking to reach Europe, but attempts have become scarcer since Spain stepped up patrols in the mid-2000s.

Guinean coast guards saw the canoe in difficulty off-shore on Monday, but were not able to deploy a boat in response, Victor Siga told Reuters.

He said wreckage has since been found, but no bodies have been recovered.

Although home to some of the continent’s fastest growing economies, West Africa is struggling to generate enough jobs for its mushrooming young population. As a result, migrants continue to tackle treacherous routes to get to Europe.

A number of migrant boats trying to reach the Canary Islands have been apprehended off the coast off Gambia this year, Gambian immigration authorities said last week.

Reporting by Alberto Dabo; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Aaron Ross and Toby Chopra

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