At least 34 migrants have drowned after their boat capsized off the coast of Djibouti, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Monday, the second such accident in just over a month.
“The migrants were being transported by people smugglers… Apprehending and prosecuting people traffickers and smugglers who exploit the vulnerabilities of migrants must become a priority. Too many lives needlessly lost,” Mohammed Abdiker, the IOM’s regional director for East Africa and the Horn of Africa, wrote on Twitter.
The incident comes shortly after at least four people were found dead on a migrant boat off the Canary Island of El Hierro on Sunday, the Spanish Red Cross said.
The vessel was spotted by a fishing boat about 193km (120 miles) to the south of El Hierro, one of the smallest of the Canary Islands, according to local media.
The number of undocumented migrants and refugees arriving in Spain’s Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean was more than eight times higher last year than in 2019, with the effect of COVID-19 on tourism and other industries in north and sub-Saharan Africa pushing many more to embark on the dangerous journey.
In February, at least 41 people drowned when their boat capsized in the Central Mediterranean as migrants and refugees fled conflict-stricken Libya and sought a better life in Europe.
The United Nations migration and refugee agencies, IOM and UNHCR, said in a joint statement at the time that the drowned people were among at least 120 migrants on a dinghy that left Libya on February 18.