Senegal fathers convicted for paying people smugglers

A Senegalese court has sentenced three fathers to a month in prison for paying smugglers to take their sons to Europe.

One of the boys died at sea in October.

The court in Mbour, south of the Senegalese capital​​​​​, ​Dakar, found the men, who are all fishermen, guilty and gave them two-year suspended sentences for endangering lives.

One of them, Mamadou Faye, is still grieving for his son.

Fifteen-year-old Ousmane – nicknamed Doudou – was one of many passengers in a wooden boat heading to the Canary Islands in October.

But he fell ill at sea and died.

His father’s crime was paying the $450 (£340) fee to the smugglers.

Doudou’s dream had been to make it to Italy and to join a football academy.

Arguineguín wharf had been used as a makeshift migrant camp ever since the surge in numbers of people arriving or being picked up at sea by rescue services.

They had spoken by phone the previous day, before Rahali’s battery ran out. Days after they were reunited, the camp was dismantled.

The emergency caused by undocumented arrivals to the archipelago shows little sign of easing.

In November alone, about 7,000 migrants reached the archipelago, which has seen the highest number of migrant arrivals since 2006.

Conditions on the quayside were cramped and lacked many basic services. In theory, the authorities are allowed to keep them there for 72 hours in order to carry out coronavirus PCR tests and legal procedures, although many migrants reportedly stayed much longer.

An increase in controls on other routes from Africa to Europe – across the Mediterranean to Greece, Italy and mainland Spain – has helped make this more perilous journey across the Atlantic more popular.

Relatively good weather conditions have also been a factor.

However, more than 600 migrants have drowned making the crossing this year, according to United Nations(UN) figures.

The Spanish government has been paying for around 6,000 migrants to stay in 17 hotels which had been empty or closed because of the impact of Covid-19 on the local tourism industry. Others are staying in makeshift camps.

A Senegalese man, also called Mohamed, is staying in the Vista Oasis hotel. He made the crossing in September but says he found out that his two younger brothers both drowned while making the same journey since then. -BBC

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