200 Senegalese Drowned in Mediterranean Boat Disaster

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At least 200 Senegalese died in the boat disaster off the coast of Libya earlier this month, officials say.

More than 750 migrants are thought to have died when the boat capsized off the coast of Libya on 18 April.

A Senegalese official told the BBC that survivors of the shipwreck and Senegalese associations working in Libya had confirmed the figures.

European leaders have pledged to triple funding for rescue operations aimed at migrant boats in the Mediterranean.

Senegalese foreign ministry official Sorry Kaba told BBC Afrique that African countries needed to work together, not only on the issue of emergency measures to help migrants, but also to come up with longer term solutions.

According to the UN, 350 Eritreans died in the disaster. Other nationalities on board included migrants from Syria, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Gambia, Ivory Coast and Ethiopia.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says that in the first quarter of 2015, the highest proportion of migrants arriving in Italy have been from the Gambia, Senegal, Somalia, Syria, Mali and Eritrea respectively.

The suspected captain of the boat, a Tunisian national, appeared in court last Friday on the Italian island of Sicily.

Prosecutors want to charge Mohammed Ali Malek, a 27-year-old Tunisian, with homicide and people-trafficking.

More than 35,000 are thought to have crossed from Africa to Europe this year and some 1,750 have died while attempting the journey.

The IOM says that the number of migrants dying on the Mediterranean crossing is roughly 30 times higher than for the same period last year, BBC reports.

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