UN: Migrant deaths on sea routes to Europe more than double

UN: Migrant deaths on sea routes to Europe more than double

Barcelona: The number of migrants and refugees who died while attempting to reach Europe on dangerous sea crossings more than doubled so far this year compared to the first six months of 2020, the U.N. migration agency said Wednesday in a new report.

At least 1,146 people perished between January and June, according to the International Organization for Migration.

The number of people attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe increased by 58%, the IOM's report said.

The Central Mediterranean route between Libya and Italy was the deadliest, claiming 741 lives.

Next was the stretch of the Atlantic Ocean between West Africa and Spain's Canary Islands, where at least 250 people died, the agency said.

At least 149 people also died on the Western Mediterranean route to Spain, as well as at least six on the Eastern Mediterranean route to Greece.

The IOM says the actual number of deaths on sea routes to Europe may be far higher as many shipwrecks go unreported and others are hard to verify.

Human rights organizations have warned that the absence of government search and rescue vessels, particularly in the Central Mediterranean, would make migrant crossings more dangerous, as European governments increasingly rely on and support North African countries with fewer resources to handle search and rescue operations.

Tunisia increased such operations by 90% in the first six months of 2021, while Libyan authorities intercepted and returned more than 15,000 men, women and children to the war-torn country, three times more people than in the same period last year, the IOM report said.

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