Report: Mediterranean’s Migrant Death Toll Jumps

Over 2,500 migrants died or went missing trying to cross the sea to reach Europe so far this year, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reports, noting a striking increase from last year.

Migrants aboard an inflatable boat before their rescue co-ordinated by a U.S. military vessel near Spain in 2016. (U.S. Navy, Wesley R. Dickey, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

By Peoples Dispatch

Over 2,500 people died or went missing while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe by September this year, finds the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which noted a huge jump from last year’s figure from the same period of 1,680. 

UNHCR Director Ruven Menikdiwela told the U.N. Security Council in a briefing Thursday that despite the increased number of deaths and accidents, migrants’ move into Europe did not slow down and there is no reason to believe that it will in the near future. 

Menikdiwela said that at least 186,000 reached Europe through the Mediterranean in the same period.

Almost 83 percent of all those who landed in Europe — 130,000 — landed in Italy, with the rest distributed among various other coastal European countries such as Greece and Spain. 

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The UNHCR reiterated how the land route usually taken by migrants and refugees to reach the sea through Sub-Saharan Africa and the sea crossing points in Libya and Tunisia remain extremely dangerous due to wars and local conflicts in the region.  

More migrants lose their lives on land, “away from public attention,” Menikdiwela said.    

Menikdiwela also reported that more than 100,000 went via Tunisia to cross the Mediterranean this year, which is a 260 percent increase from the last year. In comparison, around 45,000 people did the same from Libya.   

The International Organization of Migration (IOM) reports a slightly higher figure of 2,778 for those who died or disappeared in the Mediterranean Sea between January and  September this year, according to Pär Liljert, the IOM’s director. The organization says that of the total, 2,093 died in the Central Mediterranean alone, which is the world’s deadliest sea route. 

More than 28,105 migrants have either gone missing or died in the Mediterranean since 2014, according to the IOM. 

EU’s Inhumane Border Control Policy

Anti-Frontex demonstration on June 6, 2008, outside the European Border and Coast Guard Agency’s headquarters in Warsaw, Poland. (Noborder Network, Flickr, CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Most of the migrants die when their small, often inadequate or overcrowded boats meet with accidents in the sea with very little or no rescue and relief available. Some also drown due to confrontation with European border control. 

The European Union has adopted a strict and multi-layered border control policy to prevent the inflow of migrants. It has its own Frontex agency which is involved in patrolling in addition to the coast guards of individual countries. The EU has also signed border control deals with countries such as Libya and Tunisia

All these agencies use various methods to discourage migrants. They often harass boats filled with migrants, threaten them, turn them or push them back to the sea if they somehow reach the coast. In some cases when the migrants are able to land, they are harassed and kept in open prisons. NGOs involved in relief and rescue work have also accused Frontex of preventing their work in some cases. 

A U.N. report earlier this year blamed the EU for directly or indirectly being involved in war crimes in Libya, related to the abduction and illegal confinement of migrants and refugees there by various non-state actors.  

This article is from Peoples Dispatch.

Views expressed in this article may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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4 comments for “Report: Mediterranean’s Migrant Death Toll Jumps

  1. Valerie
    October 1, 2023 at 16:48

    It’s sad that so far there is only one comment on this topic. But until the wars and aggression of the “empires” cease, these needless deaths will contine. I was witness to one of these inflatable boats trying to cross the Med from Morocco to Spain. The captain of our ferry turned the boat around to aid the 15 or so men in the dinghy. It was a pitiful sight. We waited till the rescue Spanish coast guard came. At that time (5 years ago) i learned that every 48 hours there was something like 700 people landing in Spain.

  2. Andrew Nichols
    September 30, 2023 at 02:57

    All this misery caused by NATOs illegal regime change in Libya. Any wonder the Russians don’t trust them either.

    • Rafael
      October 1, 2023 at 13:50

      Exactly. They know that the Euro-American empire is planning the same fate for them as it imposed on Libya: to be split into scattered fragments that are incapable of charting an independent development for themelves.

    • Rafael
      October 2, 2023 at 11:49

      Exactly! Russia understands full well that the euro-american empire
      intends for it the same fate that was imposed on Libya: to be broken
      into fragments which will never again be able to chart an independent
      course or resist the plunder of their natural resources and labour. For
      five centuries this is how world capitalism has nourished itself, and
      this is what Russia and China have been able to resist with the aid of
      their respective revolutions.

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