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She survived three weeks in a pontoon wooden boat

One by one, 17-year-old Aisha saw a cloth of thirst. Of the 59 hopefuls who set off in a wooden boat to the Atlantic, she and two others survived.
– We couldn’t even throw the bodies overboard. At the highest level in the European Union, the story of the teenage girl is taken as a sharp example of the tragic situation of migrants.

It took several days to tow the wooden boat, Fishing Pie (right), to Los Cristianos in Tenerife. Photo from April 28.picture: Andres Gutierrez / AP / TT

The colorful wooden boat set off from the desert coast of Mauritania in early April. The goal was the Canary Islands, with the hope of creating a better future in the European Union.

– After two days we had no water or food, Aisha tells the BBC.

Four days later, the fuel ran out.

The 59 people on board were in the midst of the swelling waves of the world’s oceans and began drifting straight west. They became weaker and weaker.

– There were men who couldn’t get up, and were crying out for water, “Please give me water,” recalls Aisha, who came from Ivory Coast.

We used shoes to give them some sea water.

Days passed, the passengers began to die.

– At first we prayed. But in the end, no.

Days in it Hot tropical sun turned into weeks.

We didn’t even have the strength to throw bodies into the sea.

But then, after 22 days, the helicopter’s feathers flew. The boat was targeted by border guards of the Canary Islands. The Spanish rescue force couldn’t believe her eyes.

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– We were 500 kilometers southwest of Hierro. Pilot Alex Gomez says the helicopter is no longer able to fly.

El Hierro it is The farthest island of the Canary Island, referred to in ancient times as “the end of the world”. Corporal Juan Carlos Serrano and the others in the helicopter crew realized that the situation on the boat was really bad.

Serrano says: All potential thoughts are running through your head, but you should focus on saving lives.

However, the rescue operation on April 26 came too late for everyone except Ayesha and two others, who could be taken to Tenerife for treatment. With more than 50 people killed, the tragedy is seen as the worst yet in the movement of illegal immigrants from mainland Africa to the Canary Islands.

This is a European tragedy, said Interior Commissioner Elva Johansson when she was this week The issue was raised in the European Parliament.

I mentioned more Like a rubber boat vanishing on the same forearm in the Mediterranean, “a European tragedy in which 130 people were killed.”

Or the 24 boats, with a total of 2,100 people on board, including at least 600 unaccompanied children, who came to Lampedusa (Italy) in just two days.

Johansson calls for a tougher grip on people smugglers and more solidarity with the vulnerable, both within the European Union and in countries of origin. But many of the collaborations that exist with countries along the migrant path work poorly. With Turkey, the European Union differs on most matters. Libya is so messy that Europeans are not sure if anyone is negotiating with him.

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He entered Morocco It agreed at the end of last year to take back 80 migrants a week from the Canary Islands, among other places. In the long run, however, this does not correspond to a number that is making a life-threatening journey in the other direction. The program has also been suspended since April, due to a travel ban due to the Covid pandemic, according to Spanish news agency EFE.

Teen Aicha hopes to build a life in Europe. First of all, Corporal Serrano and her family helped her put on some clothes and other staples, and provided her with a makeshift roof over her head.

But Serrano has it I BBC: s videoinslag No illusions.

Unfortunately, there will be more missions like this.

Reality

Immigration at the southern border of the European Union

The number of migrants and refugees traveling to Europe illegally, hoping for a better future, across the Mediterranean and across other border regions in the south has fallen sharply since the record year 2015. At that time, a total of more than a million people came to Europe’s shores. Malta, Greece, Spain – and by road.

In 2020, the European Union counted 100,000 arrivals across the Mediterranean, and during the first four-month period, January-April, this year, nearly 20,000.

The corresponding figures for arrivals to the Canary Islands are 32,000 last year and 5,000 this year. There, it is difficult to estimate the dark figure – the affected area stretches over long and partially uninhabited stretches of the African coast and the Greater Sea.