Tuesday, November 28, 2006

13 illegal immigrant children drown off the coast of Africa trying to reach the Spanish Canary Islands


Three more children's bodies have washed up on a Western Sahara beach, bringing to 13 the number of migrant children who drowned when their small boat sank in the Atlantic, rights activists said on Tuesday.

"The authorities recovered the bodies of three children which washed up at a beach of Western Sahara late on Monday," an activist from the scene said by telephone.

Another 20 children are still missing after the rickety ship they boarded from the coastal area of Boujdour in Western Sahara, probably at the weekend, sank in bad weather. They were trying to reach the Spanish Canary Islands.

Scores of children have left Western Sahara -- a northwest African territory seized by Morocco in 1975 after former colonial power Spain withdrew -- because of a widely held belief there that Spanish authorities are more tolerant of illegal migrants who are minors.

Abdellah El Hairach, vice president of the migrant advocacy group Alter Forum, said that up to 40 boats carrying about 18 children each leave Boujdour every month for Spanish shores.

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