More than 60 individuals are feared dead after a migrant boat encountered a tragic fate off the coast of Cape Verde in West Africa.

Cape Verdean authorities reported 38 survivors, including children, rescued from the migrant boat. Video footage captured the survivors being brought ashore on stretchers on Sal Island. The survivors receive medical attention and support from local authorities and humanitarian organisations.

The majority of those on the boat are believed to be from Senegal, a neighbouring country. The boat had been at sea for over a month before it was discovered drifting. A Spanish fishing boat spotted a wooden pirogue-style boat approximately 320 kilometres (200 miles) off the Sal coast and alerted the authorities.

Among the survivors are four children aged between 12 and 16, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Senegal’s foreign ministry disclosed that the boat embarked on its journey from Senegal’s shores on 10 July, carrying 101 passengers. The ministry collaborates with Cape Verde authorities to facilitate the repatriation of survivors.

Further investigation revealed that the passengers hailed from various countries such as Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau.

According to Jose Moreira, a health official in Sal, the survivors’ health conditions improve gradually. Medical personnel provide essential care, including rehydration and medical tests to address potential health risks like malaria.

Cape Verde, located about 600 kilometres off the West African coast, has become a key point along a migration route towards the Spanish Canary Islands – a gateway to the European Union.

Health Minister Filomena Goncalves pointed out that the migration challenges are a shared global concern and require comprehensive strategies to avert further loss of life at sea.

The International Organization for Migration’s spokeswoman, Safa Msehli, has drawn attention to the lack of secure migration pathways, which in turn provide opportunities for smugglers and traffickers to exploit those desperate for a better life. In 2022, the IOM reported the loss of at least 559 lives during attempts to reach the Canary Islands. The start of 2023 was no different, with 126 lives lost or missing, and 15 shipwrecks recorded along the same migration route.

In late July, a boat carrying migrants capsized off the coast of Dakar, Senegal’s capital, leading to the drowning of at least 15 individuals.