Death toll from migrant Mediterranean Sea route to Europe surpasses 2,000

Death toll from migrant Mediterranean Sea route to Europe surpasses 2,000

In recent years the Mediterranean Sea has proven to be the deadliest sea route for refugees and migrants seeking asylum in Europe. Last week it was reported that the death toll for 2018 has exceeded 2,000 people. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has called repeatedly for urgent action to address this situation.

Around 105,000 asylum seekers and migrants have reached Europe in 2018, representing a return to pre-2014 numbers.  Although the number of migrants arriving in Europe has declined, the 2,000 drownings mean that the rate of deaths, particularly in the Central Mediterranean, has escalated sharply, according to UNHCR spokesperson Charlie Yaxley at a press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

So far in 2018, the Morocco-to-Spain corridor has been the most travelled among the three major sea routes used by migrants to reach Europe, according to a Pew Research Centre analysis of data from Frontex, Europe’s border and coast guard agency, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Migrants hoping to arrive in Europe via the Mediterranean can take one of three routes, but all routes pose dangers at sea on unsafe boats and dinghies. The Western Route (Morocco-to-Spain) has been the most travelled this year, followed by the Eastern Route (Turkey-to-Greece) and the Central Route (Africa-to-Italy).

According to the report from the UNHCR, the largest proportion of deaths have been reported in crossings to Italy which accounts for more than half of all deaths reported this year so far, despite Spain having become the primary destination of those newly arrived. More than 47, 000 people have arrived in Spain by sea, compared to around 26,789 in Greece and 21,880 in Italy.

The UNHCR welcomed the rescue efforts of the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG) as without them, more lives would have been lost. In the statement by Charlie Yaxley, the UNHCR called for the international community to address the root causes of displacement and drivers of onward movement that are forcing people to take increasingly dangerous and perilous journeys.

The AIDF Global Summit will return to Washington D.C, in 2019. 

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Photo Credit: Samuel Nacar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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