Gambians have been mourning the victims of a migrant boat disaster off the coast of Mauritania, reports claimed on Friday, 6 December 2019.
Conflicting reports suggest that all aboard the boat were from The Gambia and that the 52 people who are now known to have died were from the country.
Gambians, especially those active on social media, have been struggling to come to terms with the enormity of the tragedy. Some are even refusing to believe that there is still a strong desire among young people to travel abroad, despite a series of campaigns aimed at discouraging the tendency, given the risks involved.
Writing on Facebook, Tijan Njie blamed the problem on smugglers who still possess the power to entice gullible would-be migrants to part with a fortune for such journeys that are fraught with risks.
“The Gambian public want answers, there are reports that the smugglers are all Gambians and in fact they collected hundreds of thousands of dalasis from these desperate youths,” he wrote.
“We call for their immediate arrest and that smuggling people in to such dangerous journeys should henceforth carry the life sentence. The government should step up and protect young people from these criminals,” he added.
The boat had set sail on Monday, 2 December 2019, from the coastal ferry town of Barra, 2.74 nautical miles north of Banjul, apparently unnoticed.
It headed north with Spain as its ultimate destination when the boat hit a rock and disintegrated upon impact, causing it to capsize not far from the coast of Nouhadhibou in Mauritania.
Some eighty-three of the victims managed to swim to safety.
On Friday, 6 November 2019, local media in Banjul reported that among those who died was a promising rapper identified simply as Broozly.
The government in Banjul said its officials are collaborating with the authorities in Nouakchott and International Organisation for Migration workers over the tragedy.
According to IOM, the latest death of migrants at sea constitutes the largest along the western route for clandestine migration this year.