More than 5,000 exiles have died on European migration routes since the start of 2021
While more than 29,000 deaths have been recorded since 2014, the figures are accelerating: at least 5,684 people who died were recorded between the start of 2021 and October 2022.
The central Mediterranean route, from Tunisia and Libya, is the most dangerous: at least 2,836 migrants have died or gone missing trying to reach Italy or Malta.
Shipwrecks without witnesses that remain « invisible »
The second deadliest route is the Atlantic route, which runs from West Africa to Spain’s Canary Islands, where 1,532 deaths or disappearances have been documented over the period.
About these two routes, the UN agency points out that the count is underestimated, because it does not include the so-called “invisible” shipwrecks, these boats which disappear at sea without witnesses.
The report also records a growing number of deaths on other European routes, in border regions with Europe, in Greece, in the Balkans or in the English Channel. At the land border between Turkey and Greece, in particular, 126 deaths have been recorded.
At least 252 deaths linked to alleged forced evictions
For the first time, the UN organization publishes statistics on deaths linked to alleged forced evictions by European authorities. The testimonies of the survivors relayed to the IOM report 252 dead.
Deaths linked to these forced returns have been documented in the Central Mediterranean (97 deaths since 2021), the Eastern Mediterranean (70 deaths), the land border between Turkey and Greece (58 deaths), the Western Mediterranean (23 deaths) and at the border between Belarus and Poland (4 deaths). Migrants whose nationalities are known come mainly from Africa and the Middle East. But, for most of those listed, the origins cannot be identified.
« These continued deaths are another grim reminder that more legal and secure pathways for migration are desperately needed, » said Julia Black, author of the IOM report. The organization also recalls that many deaths “could have been avoided with rapid and effective assistance to migrants in distress”.
Rescue operations at sea have been stepped up in recent weeks
Rescue operations in the eastern Mediterranean have however intensified for several weeks. The Alarm Phone collective, which manages an emergency telephone line for people in distress when crossing the Mediterranean, indicated on Tuesday October 25 that two large boats which left Libya with around 1,300 people on board were awaiting rescue at the off the Italian and Maltese coasts, with a dozen deaths on board already recorded.
The NGO SOS Méditerranée reports for its part that it has carried out five rescue operations in the eastern Mediterranean since October 22, in conjunction with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). 202 people have been rescued and are currently on board the organization’s boat, theocean vikingpending the authorization of the Italian authorities to be able to disembark.
The new head of the Italian government, Giorgia Meloni, pledged on Tuesday to block the arrival of migrants from Africa.