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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Press Release on the death of 60 Gambian migrants off the coast of Mauritania

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) is saddened by the death of 60 Gambian migrants after their boat capsized off the coast of Mauritania on 04 December 2019.

The boat is alleged to have left Barra, North Bank Region in The Gambia on November 27 for the Canary Islands, carrying at least 150 people including women and children, before capsizing near Nouadhibou, Mauritania. 60 Gambians perished while others swam to the Mauritanian coast.

The Commission conveys its heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and expresses its solidarity with the Government and the People of The Gambia during this difficult period.

It is important to recall that the Commission had engaged with the Gambian government on the issue of illegal migration in its report following a promotion mission to The Gambia in 2017. The Commission pointed out the need to address the conditions triggering illegal migration locally known as “back way” which is claiming the lives of young Gambians on the Mediterranean and lately on a new route of the Atlantic Ocean. It also made recommendations aimed at curbing the issue, particularly, through sensitization.

The Commission welcomes Government’s establishment of the National Centralised Coordinating Centre mandated to deal with the type of emergency at hand and for launching a “full Police Investigation to get to the bottom of this serious national disaster”.

The Commission also renews its recommendations and urges the Government to take concrete measures to discourage Gambians, especially the Youth, from embarking on this life-threatening journey.

The Commission calls on the ECOWAS, the African Union and the international community to continue to take concerted efforts to deal with the challenges of migration by African Youths to Europe, with a view to finding lasting solutions to the root causes of this problem.

The Commission remains seized with the matter.


Banjul, 12 December 2019