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Migrant deaths on Middle East, North Africa routes highest since 2017 - IOM

June 13, 2023 at 5:50 pm

Migrants are seen after 11 people died as a result of the sinking of a boat carrying illegal immigrants off the coast of Garabulli, 60 kilometers east of Libya’s capital Tripoli, on April 25, 2023. Libyan Coast Guard teams rescued some migrants trapped in the water [Hazem Turkia/Anadolu Agency]

Nearly 3,800 people died on migration routes within and from the Middle East and North Africa last year, the highest number recorded there since 2017, according to data published on Tuesday by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Reuters reports.

The United Nations migration agency’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP) recorded 3,789 deaths in 2022 along sea and land routes in the region, including crossings of the Sahara Desert and Mediterranean Sea.

It said the recorded death toll – which was 11 per cent higher than that recorded in 2021 and the highest since 4,255 documented six years ago – was likely much higher in reality due to scarce official data and limited access to migration routes for civil society and international organisations.

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“This alarming death toll on migration routes within and from the MENA region demands immediate attention and concerted efforts to enhance the safety and protection of migrants,” said Othman Belbeisi, IOM Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

IOM said the highest number of deaths on land routes in the region last year was recorded in war-torn Yemen, where the Agency said that targeted violence against migrants had increased.

On sea routes from the region to Europe, IOM recorded an increase in deadly incidents on boats travelling to Greece and Italy from Lebanon.

“As many as 84 per cent of those who perished along sea routes remain unidentified, leaving desperate families in search of answers,” the IOM report said.

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