On The Canary Route this year at least one person dies at sea, on average, every 32 hours
Air Force photograph showing twelve survivors and five deceased on board a cuyaco located in August 2020, by Search and Rescue (SAR), some 205 kilometres south of Gran Canaria. At that time there were twelve survivors on board. One died shortly after in the Maritime Rescue helicopter evacuating him.
According to the count carried out by the IOM’s Missing Migrants program, since the beginning of 2021, at least 87 people have lost their lives trying to reach the Canary Islands by boat, of which only 47 bodies have been recovered, a number that includes the 17 corpses still aboard a cuyaco (open boat) found by chance, adrift, 490km south of El Hierro, from which 3 survivors were rescued by helicopter and are now receiving critical care.
Among the victims so far this year, there are least eight children and six women, although the IOM states that the data are incomplete, because they usually do not receive much information on the age or sex of the occupants of the boats who perish at sea. They collect their information from a range of sources including groups like Caminando Fronteras, a Spanish NGO that reports the departure of boats to the authorities to enable their rescue. It is impossible to know about every departure along the more than 2,500km of West African coastline from where most start their journeys, and so it is impossible to know how many are never seen again.
Since the beginning of this year, 4,361 immigrants have arrived on the Canary Islands, or been rescued at sea near the islands, travelling in 119 boats, cayucos and inflatables, according to the latest updated figures from Spain’s Government Delegation.
The official record, published by the Ministry of the Interior, indicates that last year 1,936 immigrants had arrived on the islands between January 1 and April 30, a figure that this year has more than doubled (+ 125%, an increase of 2,425).
The mortality rate on The Canary Route currently stands at one death for every 49 arrivals (4,361/88). Throughout the balance of 2020, that number ended up being almost double: one confirmed death for every 27 arrivals (23,023/850 deaths confirmed by the IOM at the end of the year).