DAKAR, Sept 15: Senegal has arrested more than 100 Pakistanis trying to sail to the Spanish Canary Islands, the authorities said on Friday. They were the first non-Africans to be seized during Spain’s struggle to cope with a vast tide of clandestine migrants.
Meanwhile in Spain, 200 other migrants from Asia, including some Sri Lankans, were on Friday awaiting their fate after being caught off the Canaries in a precarious metal vessel.
Senegalese security forces said they had arrested more than 100 Pakistanis this week.
“Overnight Tuesday to Wednesday, 56 clandestine migrants were arrested in Dakar,” Senegalese police spokesman Daouda Diop said. They were to travel by “dugout or by road to Mauritania on the way to Europe”.
“According to their account, a Pakistani smuggler made them come to Dakar for 1,000 dollars,” added the spokesman. “He is being sought.”
On Thursday 48 Pakistanis and a Ghanaian were arrested in Thies, a town 70 kilometres east of Dakar, according to another police spokesman, Alioune Ndiaye.
“They said that somebody had made them come here in order to take them to the Canaries,” Mr Ndiaye said.
The discovery of the Pakistani migrants marked a development in the mass immigration crisis, which has seen a record 25,000 illegal migrants flock to the Canary Islands this year. Spain has appealed for international help in dealing with them.
The Pakistanis arrested this week were the first non-Africans during the current crisis to be apprehended in Senegal, itself a major source of illegal migrants to Europe.
“It is the first time that we have had a foreign network (involved in the movement of migrants),” Mr Diop said. “They probably know that the other routes are very complicated and very expensive,” he said.—AFP