Migrant death toll likely higher in Sahara than Mediterranean: UN  

Photo credit: Joe Penney/Reuters. Migrants crossing from Niger to Libya.

TMP – 26/10/2017

According to the UN, the number of West African migrants dying in the Sahara Desert is likely to be far higher than the number of migrants who perish in the Mediterranean Sea in an attempt to reach European shores.

Speaking at a press conference in Geneva, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) director for West and Central Africa, Richard Danziger, said that while they do not have any specifics on the number of deaths in the Sahara Desert, it stands to reason that the number is high.

“We assume, and I think we have said before, that it has to be at least double those who die in the Mediterranean. But we really have no evidence of that, it’s just an assumption. We just don’t know,” Danziger said.

Danziger also told reporters that people smugglers in Niger were increasingly scared of authorities, possibly leading them to abandon migrants in the desert.

The transit route through Niger now sees fewer migrant crossings since the government took strong measures against irregular migration by closing migrant “ghettoes” and arresting people smugglers.
Danziger also remarked on the horror stories that returnees brought back after trying to transit through Libya. “You do not want to get caught in Libya. What happens in Libya is far scarier to people than dying,” he said.