IOM: Over 2,000 migrants died crossing the Mediterranean in 2023

Alwasat - Cairo Thu 29 Jun 2023, 02:03 PM
alwasat radio

The number of migrants who have lost their lives this year while attempting to get to Europe by sea has been revised by researchers at the International Organization for Migration (IOM), bringing the total to over 2,000.

IOM statistics show that between January 1 and June 26 of this year, at least 1,999 migrants died, the majority of whom drowned. 1,358 deaths occurred during the same time the previous year. The three main routes across the Mediterranean, as well as the Atlantic route from West Africa, are all included in these totals.

More than 60,000 migrants have entered Italy so far this year, compared to less than 27,000 during this period last year, a notable rise in the number of arrivals. More than 82,000 migrants are expected to arrive in total by sea in Mediterranean Europe this year, according to the IOM, compared to less than 49,000 at this time last year.

Flavio di Giacomo, spokesperson for IOM Italy, said as quoted by NPR that the number of migrants entering Europe today is comparable to that between 2015 and 2017.

A new type of vessel has been departing Tunisia since October: boats made of iron.

These boats are prone to breaking and can capsize very easily. “The iron boats are the most fragile boats we have even seen in the Mediterranean,” di Giacomo added.

“This is the first time I’m seeing migrants arrive in such bad condition from Tunisia,” he says. “They arrive wet, without shoes, and exhausted. They arrive barefoot because there’s water inside the boat.”

The Libyan route has long been more dangerous than the Tunisian route, because it’s farther. But with the use of iron boats, the Tunisian route has become much riskier than before.

But because there were more European and non-governmental organization rescue ships at sea to assist vessels in difficulty, rescues were quicker and more effective back then, he added.

"The priority should be saving lives at sea. But this is not happening," says di Giacomo.

It is believed that the actual number of people who have perished in the water is far greater than the IOM's lowest estimations.

Dhingra argues that decriminalizing rescue operations and putting more money toward support for migrant and refugee rights in transit nations like Libya and Tunisia are essential if the international community wants to lessen the number of people who die while trying to cross the border.

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