2,500 migrants killed or missing in Mediterranean so far this year
More than 2,500 people have died or gone missing trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe since the beginning of the year, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees announced on Thursday.
"As of 24 September, more than 2,500 people have been registered dead or missing. This figure represents an increase of two-thirds compared to 1,680 in the same period last year," Ruven Menikdiwela, head of UNHCR's New York office, told a Security Council meeting on the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean. "Lives are also being lost on land, far from the public eye," she said.
"The journey from West or East Africa and the Horn of Africa to Libya and coastal departure points remains one of the most dangerous in the world"
"The journey from West or East Africa and the Horn of Africa to Libya and coastal departure points remains one of the most dangerous in the world," Menikdiwela said. "Refugees and migrants travelling overland from sub-Saharan Africa risk death and serious human rights violations at every stage."
According to Menikdiwela's figures, 186,000 migrants arrived in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Malta between 1 January and 24 September. In Italy, there were 130,000, an increase of 83 per cent compared to the same period last year.
More than 102,000 people attempted to cross the Mediterranean from Tunisia and 45,000 from Libya between January and August 2023. Of these, 31,000 were rescued at sea or intercepted and disembarked in Tunisia and 10,600 in Libya.
The UN-affiliated International Organisation for Migration has been keeping data on people who die or disappear during migration since 2014. The figure now stands at nearly 59,000, but the organisation believes the actual figure is much higher.
Meanwhile, EU member states are negotiating a new migration deal. No agreement was reached on Thursday on how to respond when migrant flows reach critical levels. "We are almost there, but not entirely" was the message from EU Home Affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson and Spanish Interior minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska Gómez. They argue that only a few "nuances" stand in the way of an agreement.
Once ministers have adopted their positions on the urgency procedure, negotiations can start in the European Parliament. The emergency procedure is part of the migration pact on which member states reached a broad agreement in June. The urgency procedure and the migration pact should balance responsibility and solidarity. The migration pact should be in place before the European elections in June 2024.
© PHOTO MATIAS CHIOFALO / AFP