GENEVA - The International Organization for Migration says migrant fatalities on the Mediterranean Sea separating Africa from Europe will top 1,000 this year.
The numbers indicate the Mediterranean Sea crossing remains the deadliest known migration route worldwide. International Organization for Migration figures show 994 men, women and children making the perilous journey have died this year. With three months left, IOM says the final 2019 death toll is certain to exceed 1,000.
IOM spokesman Joel Millman says this will mark the sixth straight year that deaths on the Mediterranean have topped 1,000. The cumulative total of victims during the six-year period is at least 15,000.
“These data, tragic as they are, are the lowest number recorded at this point in the year since 2014," he said. "However, as shown… this drop is linked mostly to the reduction in the number of people attempting the crossing, rather than an improvement on the safety of this route… indicating that safe alternatives are urgently needed for migrants seeking a better life.”
The U.N. migration agency blames many of the deaths on rising anti-migrant sentiments and hardening attitudes towards people fleeing violence and poverty.
Figures in IOM’s Missing Migrants Project report show other parts of the world also are becoming increasingly deadly for migrants. The agency has recorded nearly 600 deaths along migratory corridors in the Americas. The agency says it expects many more Central American migrants heading for the United States are likely to lose their lives before the end of the year.