According to a briefing released by the International Organization For Migration (IOM), the number of migrants who died while attempting to reach Europe through the maritime route, in the first half of 2021, is more than double as compared to the number of deaths in 2020.
More than 1,146 people have died, between the months of January and June, 2021 revealed the report by IOM (UN Migration). The number of people attempting to migrate to Europe through sea routes has seen a 56% increase too.
As documented by IOM, the Central Mediterranean route (between Libya and Italy) was the deadliest, claiming approximately 741 lives. Next up, with approximately 250 deaths, is the West Africa/Atlantic route, which falls between West Africa and Spain’s Canary Islands. The Western Mediterranean route to Spain claimed at least 149 lives. While the Eastern Mediterranean route to Greece claimed six more.
As many shipwrecks go unreported, the IOM believes the actual number of deaths could be way higher than their documentation.
The deadliest incident of the death of migrants this year, occurred on 22nd April, when approximately 130 people drowned off Libya, despite sending multiple distress calls to the officials.
The death of seven migrants off Italy, was one of the most recent of such incidents. Where, the Libya Coast Guard had confirmed firing warning shots in the boat carrying the migrants, before it finally sank.
The briefing further shows a steep increase in the maritime operations along the Central Mediterranean route, by the North African countries, for the second consecutive year. At least 31,500 people, who were reportedly attempting to flee their country, were intercepted or rescued by the North African authorities, in the first half of the year (2021), as compared to 23,117 in the first half of 2020.
Tunisia has also increased similar operations off it’s coast by approximately ninety-percent in the first half of 2021 compared to that of 2020. In Libya, over 15,300 people were returned in the first six months of 2021. Which is almost 3X higher than that of the same period in 2020 (5,476 people). This should be investigated upon by international authorities, as migrants who are returned to Libya are reportedly subjected to arbitrary detention, extortion, disappearances, and torture.
Download the PDF file of the briefing by IOM – UN Migrants here.