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In a half-built home off the busy beaches of the fishing town Mbour, relatives and neighbours gather to grieve without a body to bury. 

A young woman walks in and greets each of us with a handshake and curtsy.

She turns to kneel at the feet of the man sitting in the centre room and suddenly, her posture collapses as she breaks into deep sobs. She was set to marry his youngest son, Mohamed.

Mohamed was one of at least 50 people who recently died attempting the dangerous Atlantic route from Senegal to the Canary Islands.

Their half-sunken boat was found 60 miles south of the Canary Island El Hierro on 29 April – none of their bodies were found in or around the wreckage.

Oumar's son Mohamed died trying to reach Europe
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Oumar’s son Mohamed died trying to reach Europe

“It was announced that there were only nine survivors in the Spanish hospital. When the survivors became conscious and they were asked – we knew Mohamed had died,” says his father Oumar.

“I had decided to seal his marriage. That is why his fiancee was sobbing when she arrived – her hope was shattered.”

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Three of Mohamed’s older brothers are currently in Spain, struggling to live without residency permits. Oumar says two of them left from Senegal and one from Mauritania to the Canary Islands by boat over the last three years.

Oumar's son Mohamed died trying to reach Europe
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Mohamed had three brothers already in Spain

The Spanish non-profit organisation Caminando Fronteras (Walking Borders) says more than 6,600 migrants died on the Atlantic route last year as a record 55,618 migrants arrived in Spain by boat with most of them landing in the Canary Islands, according to Spain’s Interior Ministry.

Despite the risks, the route is gaining popularity as the land journey to the Mediterranean Sea through North Africa has become increasingly militarised, with Libya, Tunisia, Morocco and Mauritania in bilateral agreements with the European Union (EU) to stop migration.

In January, 7,270 migrants arrived in the Canary Islands – around the same number of arrivals there were in the first six months of last year.

Caminando Fronteras describes the Atlantic route as the deadliest and busiest migrant passage in the world.

Oumar is pained by the loss, but not shocked that Mohamed left to join his brothers. Life in fishing towns across Senegal has become unbearable.

“When I was younger and deep-sea fishing, I didn’t face the problems we have now of industrial fishing boats and the big nets that they use.

“All of this has destroyed the sea. It is happening right now and here in our area and our sons are aware that there are no resources,” says Oumar.

“This is the reason our sons are taking boats and leaving.”

The fishing town Mbour, Senegal
Image:
The fishing town Mbour, Senegal

Illegal and unregulated fishing by large Chinese trawlers and Senegal’s long-standing EU fisheries partnership are at the heart of discontent around the depletion of fish stocks and the devastation of artisanal fishing communities.

Under the current agreement, the EU pays the Senegalese state €2.6m (£2.2m) a year to allow 45 European vessels from Spain and France to fish 10,000 tonnes of tuna and 1,750 tonnes of hake. That is the equivalent of 0.005 euros per tonne of fish.

“The issues with the fishing agreement, which started in the 1970s, is that almost all the areas that it applies to are exploited.

“These fishing agreements are not able to develop in a way to protect the fisheries – a renegotiation in a true way that can benefit these countries should be done,” says Dr Aliou Ba, senior ocean campaign manager for Greenpeace Africa.

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Senegal’s new president Bassirou Diomaye Faye has declared he will review fishing deals and licences signed with its partners that include the European Union to guarantee they are structured to benefit the fishing sector.

“This is a very good statement. There have been years of calls for the audit of the Senegalese industrial fleet. He also requested a renegotiation of this fishing agreement,” says Dr Ba.

“It can be a real, fair fishing agreement. This can be a precedent of African countries defending the interest of communities, of the people.”

But an alternate ecosystem of smugglers and young men eager to follow family and friends to Europe may have already been cemented.

A fisherman turned smuggler speaks to Sky News
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A fisherman turned smuggler speaks to Sky News

On a beach an hour away from the government buildings of Dakar, a fisherman turned smuggler tells us around 200 people in the area died trying to get to the Canary Islands, but demand is higher than ever.

“In Senegal at this moment, we have no time to think too much because we have done so much thinking and don’t have solutions. The only thing we see is to go to Europe.”

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Zelenskyy calls on Biden and Xi to join Ukraine peace summit

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Zelenskyy calls on Biden and Xi to join Ukraine peace summit

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has directly called on his US and Chinese counterparts to join his latest summit for peace in Ukraine.

Speaking from Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine on Friday, Mr Zelenskyy announced a “global peace summit”, co-hosted by Switzerland, starting on 15 June.

He claimed 80 countries have already confirmed their attendance.

But he said: “I am appealing to the global leaders of the world who are still outside the global efforts of the global peace summit.

“To President Biden, the leader of the United States, and to President Xi, the leader of China, we do not want the UN charter to be burned.

“Please show your leadership in advancing the peace.”

Residents evacuated from a building hit by strikes in Kharkiv on Saturday. Pic: Reuters
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Residents evacuated from a building hit by strikes in Kharkiv on Saturday. Pic: Reuters

He added that it must be “real peace – not just a pause in the strikes” after various ceasefire breaches by the Russians.

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Finally, he urged: “The efforts of the global majority are the best guarantee that all commitments will be fulfilled.”

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Shopping mall hit by strike in Kharkiv on Saturday. Pic: Reuters

Printworks and shopping centre targeted this week

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, with a pre-war population of 1.5 million people, is close to the frontline, and has been consistently targeted since the initial invasion in February 2022.

On Thursday, its ‘Vivat’ printworks, which is the country’s largest, was hit by missiles, killing seven people, and destroying an estimated 50,000 books. A further 21 people were injured, Ukrainian officials said.

On Saturday, a strike on a shopping centre killed six people, injured 40, and left a further 16 unaccounted for, local authorities said.

Elsewhere in the city, an additional 11 people were injured as a result of strikes, including a 13-year-old boy.

Just over the border, in Russia’s Belgorod region, the regional governor there said four residents died as a result of Ukrainian attacks on Saturday.

Aftermath of Russian strike on Kharkiv on Saturday. Pic: Reuters
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Aftermath of Russian strike on Kharkiv on Saturday. Pic: Reuters

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Crowded DIY stores hit by strikes
Ukrainians training without firing due to shortages
Putin thanks Xi for his Ukraine efforts

Mr Zelenskyy warned a new Russian offensive is being planned northwest of Kharkiv.

Ukrainians and military analysts have repeatedly warned of depleting weapon supplies on the frontline.

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Earlier this month the US agreed to a further $2bn (£1.6bn) in military support for Ukraine.

It has consistently resisted calls to send US troops there, in line with NATO’s refusal for direct involvement in the conflict.

China has resisted calls by NATO and its member states to take a direct stance against Russia in support of Ukraine.

President Xi hosted Russian leader Vladimir Putin in a show of “friendship” earlier this month.

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Hamas launches first rocket attack on Israel from Gaza in months

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Hamas launches first rocket attack on Israel from Gaza in months

Hamas has launched rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza for the first time in months.

The barrage of rockets set off air raid sirens in cities as far away as Tel Aviv.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage in what appeared to be the first long-range rocket attack from Gaza since January, although Palestinian militants have continued to sporadically fire rockets and mortar rounds at communities along the Gaza border since then.

Hamas’s military wing claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Israeli military said eight projectiles crossed into Israel after being launched from the area of the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where Israeli forces recently launched an incursion.

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You can receive breaking news alerts on a smartphone or tablet via the Sky News app. You can also follow @SkyNews on X or subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep up with the latest news.

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India: Newborn babies killed in fire at hospital in Delhi after ‘chain of explosions’

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India: Newborn babies killed in fire at hospital in Delhi after 'chain of explosions'

At least six newborn babies have died after a fire broke out at a children’s hospital in India, according to reports.

Firefighters said they carried 12 newborns out of the centre in the Vivek Vihar district of east New Delhi late on Saturday night, but five of them died due to smoke inhalation.

Two other infants are believed to have already died, according to local media. There are differing reports as to whether six or seven infants have been killed so far.

Another five survived and are being treated in a nearby hospital, Delhi fire department chief Atul Garg said.

The blaze, which broke out on the first floor of the hospital, was put out after about an hour.

Burnt registration cards lie on the floor of a baby care center in New Delhi, India, Sunday, May 26, 2024. A fire broke out in the care center on Saturday night killing six infants, a fire service officer said on Sunday. (AP Photo/Dinesh Joshi)
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Burnt registration cards lie on the floor of the hospital. Pic: AP

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Mr Garg told the ANI news agency that an oxygen cylinder blast was the likely cause of the fire, but there has been no official confirmation.

“It was a very tough operation,” he was quoted as saying by India Today.

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“We made two teams. One team started firefighting because there was a blast of cylinders. We can say it was a chain of blasts of cylinders.

“We had to save ourselves also. We started rescue operations for babies as well. Unfortunately, we could not save all the children… That is a regrettable incident.”

The owner of the baby hospital has fled, according to Delhi police.

Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s chief minister, called the fire “heartbreaking”, adding that the “causes of the incident are being investigated and whoever is responsible for this negligence will not be spared”.

Machines move the debris following a fire in a gaming zone in Rajkot, in the western state of Gujarat, India, May 26, 2024. REUTERS/Amit Dave
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Machines move debris after a fire in Rajkot. Pic: Reuters

Earlier on Saturday, at least 27 people were killed in a fire at a crowded amusement park in the city of Rajkot in Gujarat state in western India.

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