Mediterranean: At least 92 migrants dead or missing in January

The Mediterranean sea continues to claim the lives of migrants attempting to reach Europe irregularly in small boats. At least 92 people lost their lives in January 2020, according to data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The number of fatalities is much lower than for the same period in 2019, when the death toll reached 216. However, the number of migrants dying on the Eastern Mediterranean route, which links Greece and Turkey, has shot up from 2 in January 2019 to 63 in the same period of 2020.

The migrant population in Greece’s Aegean region has also dramatically increased. In January 2019, there were around 14,500 migrants living there, whereas in January 2020 the figure had reached almost 42,000.

As a result, the neighbouring countries of the Western Balkans are bracing for an increase in migrant arrivals. IOM’s Sub-Regional Coordinator for the Western Balkans, Peter Van Der Auweraert said: “Many [migrants] desperately want to get to other EU countries, and some will – without any doubt – start moving in greater numbers as soon as the weather warms up and the mountains are clear of snow.”

“But accommodation centres in both Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are full to capacity so we need to get ready now, because we know we are going to face many challenges come springtime,” he added. 

TMP – 15/02/2020

Photo credit: Ververidis Vasilis / Shutterstock

Photo caption: Lesbos, Greece, October 11 2015: Refugees and Migrants aboard dinghies reach the Greek Island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey.