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At least 58 people drown as refugee boat founders off Mauritania

AT LEAST 58 people were drowned when a refugee boat heading from Gambia to Spain’s Canary Islands capsized off the coast of Mauritania.

Survivors who managed to swim ashore were receiving emergency care, according to the country’s Interior Minister, Mohamed Salem.

Mauritanian authorities said that the boat, which left Gambia on November 27, was carrying around 180 people and that at least 85 survived.

The UN migration agency’s head of mission in the West African country, Laura Lungarotti, said the vessel had approached the coast in a bid to replenish food and fuel supplies.

Mr Salem said the survivors were receiving care “in accordance with human solidarity, fraternity and African hospitality.” 

The number of refugees from Gambia fell after the 2016 electoral defeat and subsequent exile of long-term president Yahya Jammeh.

However, the country’s economy was seriously hit by the collapse of British travel company Thomas Cook, which brought around 40 per cent of Gambia’s tourists to the country, with the industry responsible for a third of Gambia’s GDP.

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