More than six hundred migrants, including 26 women and 13 minors, who were moving in dinghies in the Atlantic Ocean, were intercepted in three days after they sailed from Senegal to reach European soil, the army of the west African country announced.

A Navy patrol car intercepted yesterday Saturday two wooden boats loaded with 262 people, among them 13 children, according to a statement made public yesterday. On Thursday and Friday, PN vessels stopped three more boats, in which a total of 343 people were on board (71 and 272 respectively).

The Senegalese military did not specify the nationalities of the migrants. He said that they were taken to the shores and handed over to the competent authorities.

The PN has multiplied operations of this nature in recent months. It says it has stopped 1,955 migrants since July 1, according to an AFP tally based on its announcements on social networking sites.

In general, many migrants are nationals of Senegal and other African countries trying to reach the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago. Thousands of people desperate for a better life try to reach Europe by sea every year, despite the dangers of the Atlantic crossing.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 150 boats with 7,213 migrants arrived in the Canary Islands from Africa in the first half of 2023. This number was slightly reduced compared to the corresponding period last year, when 8,741 arrivals were recorded with 193 floating.

However, according to figures from Spain’s interior ministry, from January 1 to August 31, arrivals were 11,439 (+7.5% compared to 2022). According to the same source, this is the highest number for this period since at least 2018, if not since 2006.

In 2023, according to IOM data, at least 140 migrants lost their lives on this maritime migration route.

But the Spanish NGO Caminando Fronteras, relying on phone calls for help from migrants at sea or their relatives, reckons that the dead and missing reached 778 in the first half of the year.

At least sixty Senegalese are believed to have died while traveling in a dinghy that was spotted off Cape Verde on August 14 after it sailed in July. Only 37 survived.