Rising number of migrants die while crossing the Mediterranean

TMP – 26/06/2017

The death rate among migrants who die while being smuggled to Europe across the Mediterranean has almost doubled compared to last year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Although there has been a steep fall in the number of migrant arrivals to Europe this year, the death rate is increasing. According to data from IOM, 2,512 migrants died in 2016 while crossing the Mediterranean, while the figure for 2017 has already reached 1,650.

Aid agencies say the rising death rate is caused by the increasingly unsafe boats being provided by smugglers and traffickers in Libya.

Recent reports of over 50 migrants missing at sea in two separate incidents involving large numbers of people on flimsy dinghies off the coast of Libya.

Leonard Doyle, chief spokesman for IOM, said: “The rate of deaths has gone sky high. People looking for work are being told to get into a dinghy and they’ll get a job. These are very vulnerable people ending up in exploitative situations.”

A United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) statement in connection with the recent events in the Mediterranean said: The mixed flows of people through East and West Africa towards Sudan, Niger and Libya continue unmanaged, and cruel smuggling networks flourish.”

“We urgently need renewed efforts to find different solutions for refugees and migrants in the countries they cross before they reach Libya, given the insecurity in that country and vulnerability of people on the move to horrific exploitation and abuse,” the statement added.

The overall death toll among migrants trying to reach Europe is believed to be much higher, as many migrants die in the Sahara Desert before they reach the Libyan coast.