Migrants: more than 350 deaths worldwide since the beginning of the year (IOM)

At least 354 migrants and refugees have died in the world since 1 January 2019, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Tuesday.

This figure “includes 125 people who drowned last week as they attempted to emigrate to four different regions of the world: the Gulf of Aden, the Colombia-Panama border, the US-Mexico border and the United States. Caribbean, “said IOM spokesman Joel Millman at a press briefing in Geneva.

The largest proportion of migrant and refugee deaths in the Mediterranean is still the most dangerous stage in the world and confirms its status as a marine cemetery for people seeking to reach Europe. Three main migration routes cross the Mediterranean: in the west, from Morocco to Spain; in the center, from Libya to Italy and east, from Turkey to Greece. To date, the IOM Missing Migrants Project (MMP) has recorded 201 deaths in 2019 along these three migration routes, compared with 391 during the same period in 2018.

Although the number of victims remains high, arrivals of migrants and refugees on European shores have dropped significantly. About 6,413 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea during the first 34 days of 2019, a slight decrease from 7,499 during the same period last year.

Migratory routes to Yemen remain among the deadliest

Paths to Yemen remain among the deadliest migration routes. Since the beginning of the year, it was in the sea routes leading to the Arabian Peninsula that the tragedies were more deadly.

Djiboutian coastguards confirmed the presence of 86 people aboard boats that sank last week off the coast of Obock.

After the rescue of 16 people, 52 bodies were found and 18 are still missing at sea. Three women are among the dead. The passengers were mostly Ethiopians. The boats left the locality of Godoria, a locality located in Obock region, north-east of Djibouti, with the aim of reaching the Arabian peninsula. The accident would have occurred because of the overload and the strong swell, about thirty minutes after the departure.

By 2018, more than 150 people reportedly drowned attempting to reach Yemen, mainly from the Horn of Africa. Increasingly cruel measures adopted by smugglers, such as overloading boats and forced landing in deep waters, seem to explain the increase in the number of deaths at sea along this route. The greatest loss of life occurred on June 6, 2018 when 62 people drowned in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Yemen.

DRC nationals rescued during sinking between Colombia and Panama

Migrant deaths have also been recorded since the beginning of the year in the Americas.

In the Caribbean, a migrant boat recently sank off Marsh Harbor, north of the Bahamas archipelago, reported the IOM Migrant Project. On February 2, 17 people were saved, while the bodies of 28 people were found to date. According to IOM, there is every reason to believe that all the dead are migrants from Haiti.

Not far from there, near the maritime border between Colombia and Panama, another wreck left 24 dead on 28 January. Eight survivors, all from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, were rescued off the coast of Capurgana, in the province of Choco, in northern Colombia. According to their testimonies, 32 people – including 14 children – were on board in order to reach Panama to continue their journey to the north. As of 30 January, the Colombian navy had fished the bodies of 12 people, including seven children. Another 12 people are reported missing.

In the Rio Grande, where the US-Mexico border separates Texas from the Mexican states of Tamaulipas and Coahuila, the bodies of two young Mexican men were rescued from the river on 28 January. Their families reported their disappearance on January 12 as they attempted to cross the border into the United States. The body of another man traveling with them has not been found yet.

Source: International Organization for Migration