Woman and child found dead in migrant boat off Canaries

Nearly 10,000 refugees have arrived on the Spanish islands this year

Migrants at the Port of Arrecife, Lanzarote, the Canary Islands, after being rescued at sea by Spanish coastguard. EPA
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A woman and a girl of 4 were found dead on a migrant boat off Spain's Canary Islands, Spanish rescue services said on Friday.

A total of 27 people had left the west African coast in a barely seaworthy dinghy, seeking to reach the Canaries archipelago.

The Spanish coastguard said the two bodies were discovered after a fishing boat came to the vessel's assistance on Thursday.

Officials said a third person was airlifted to hospital with chest pains.

The boat was found off the coast of the island of Lanzarote. Some reports, citing local officials on the Canary Islands, said the woman and child had been crushed in the overcrowded dinghy.

Another boat, said to be carrying about 50 people, was intercepted on Friday.

Non-government organisations say women and children are increasingly embarking on the dangerous route to the islands of EU member Spain.

The death in March last year of a girl of 2 from Mali, after days fighting for her life in a Canaries hospital, sparked debate in Spain.

She had made the perilous journey with 51 other migrants, including her mother and sister.

This year, 9,308 migrants have arrived in the islands — up 27 per cent on the same period last year, the Spanish Interior Ministry said.

This is despite a decrease in migrants trying to reach Spain in recent weeks, after Madrid and Morocco normalised diplomatic relations. This followed a months-long crisis centred on the disputed Western Sahara territory.

Many migrants trying to reach the Canaries set sail from southern Morocco, near Western Sahara.

Last year, more than 40,000 migrants arrived in Spain, mainly via Morocco.

Spanish NGO Caminando Fronteras said 4,404 migrants died or went missing while making the journey — twice as many as in 2020.

Updated: July 15, 2022, 7:20 PM