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IOM: Migrant Deaths Reach New High in 2016

  • VOA News

Refugees and migrants overcrowd a wooden boat during a rescue operation on the Mediterranean sea, about 19 miles north of Az Zawiyah, Libya,on July 21, 2016.

An average of 20 migrants died on migratory routes every day in 2016 - far surpassing numbers from previous years, according to the International Organization for Migration.

More than half of the nearly 7,200 deaths counted this year occurred in the Mediterranean Sea on routes to Greece, Italy, Cyprus, and Spain, according to a report released by the IOM Friday.

The significant increase in deaths in the Mediterranean is particularly striking because the overall number of migrant arrivals in Europe has declined sharply since last year - from 883,393 in 2015 to 357,249 this year, according to the IOM.

But the numbers in Central America, the United States-Mexico border region, and northern and southern Africa have surpassed migrant death tolls from previous years as well. IOM recorded a total of 5,740 migrants as dead or missing in 2015, and 5,267 in 2014.

The IOM estimates that as many as 300 more migrants could die by the end of this year if trends continue, but also states that having a precise count is difficult. A correction to the report has already been made for the Mediterranean death toll since Thursday evening, citing information that another 88 people were feared missing after a boat reportedly sank off the coast of Libya.

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