Sea routes main cause of migrant deaths

 The world’s most dangerous migration routes involve sea crossings, particularly the Mediterranean Sea, said the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

According to its new report, ‘Fatal Journeys’, over 17,900 people died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea between 2014 and 2018. This includes 678 children. From January to June 2019, latest IOM data showed that 597 migrants died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. 

Many Afghan irregular migrants cross the Mediterranean Sea in an attempt to get from Turkey to Europe.  Since the start of the European migration crisis in 2015, tens of thousands of irregular migrants, including Afghans, have tried to reach Europe. 

To manage the flow of irregular migrants, Europe responded by tightening its borders. This has caused smugglers to take even greater risks in order to get migrants across European borders. Some of these risks included unseaworthy and overcrowded boats which are at risk of sinking or capsizing. 

Greece is the main entry points for Afghan irregular migrants entering Europe from Turkey across the Mediterranean Sea. In June 2019, two boats capsized off the Turkish coast, leaving several people dead including children.  

On 11 June, seven migrants including two children, drowned after their boat capsized in the Aegean Sea while on route to Greece. The second incident took place on 17 June when eight migrants drowned off the coast of southwestern Turkey, according to the Turkish coastguard. According to Turkey’s Daily Sabah newspaper, the boat was on route to the Greek island of Kos.

“This tragedy is a painful reminder that people continue to take perilous journeys to reach the Greek Aegean islands,” said Philippe Leclerc, the UNHCR representative in Greece. “Redoubled efforts are needed to ensure safe and legal ways to reach Europe, so people stop risking their lives in the hands of ruthless traffickers and smugglers.”

TMP – 03/07/2019

Photo credit: Malcolm Chapman /

Photo caption: LESVOS, GREECE – SEPTEMBER 29, 2015: Refugees arriving in Greece by boat from Turkey. Volunteer lifeguards swam out to assist and guide the boat in when the motor failed.