An Unfortunate Passing of a Senegalese Boy
Three men were each sentenced to two years in prison — of which 23 months are suspended, by a court in Senegal on Tuesday in a high-profile case that saw three fathers facing charges of "placing the lives of others in danger," after the trio urged their sons to embark upon a risky migration trip to Europe by sea which left one of the boys pronounced dead.
The men were acquitted of the charge of abetting migrant trafficking at the insistence of their defence attorney.
An Untimely Death Borne of Desperation
Their sons were with other migrants who boarded a canoe to make the crossing from Senegal to Spain's Canary Islands, the first step in a plan to reach continental Europe.
But one of them, a boy aged about 15 nicknamed Doudou, fell ill and died after having problems eating" during the trip — as per a source close to the investigation.
Further details are unclear, as according to local media his body was tipped overboard after he died.
The children of the two other fathers survived the attempted crossing and have since returned home.
The fathers of the three — who are fishermen in the coastal town of Mbour, were arrested a couple of weeks afterwards.
The father of the deceased child had paid 80 euros to a smuggler, who was to take the boy to Spain. His ultimate destination was Italy where he hoped to sign up for a football training academy in the hopes of launching a lucrative professional career to help his family.
The Economic State of Affairs in Senegal
Doudou's untimely and unfortunate passing triggered an uproar in Senegal - prompting anguished debates about poverty, parental pressure and the allure of life in societies abroad that are perceived to have a better standard of living.
The pressure to migrate is especially strong among fishing communities as coastal villages in Senegal have been badly hit by dwindling catches that many allege are due to the disruptive presence of foreign factory ships - in addition to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Canary Islands lie more than 100 kilometres from the coast of Africa at their closest point, and many boats —big canoes also called pirogues, are overcrowded, underpowered and in poor shape for such migration trips.
Over 500 people have died this year, mostly in October and November, according to the United Nations’ International Office for Migration (IOM), compared to 210 fatalities for the whole of last year.