The number of migrants who died at sea trying to get to Europe has more than doubled this year. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) stated this in its report on Tuesday. According to IOM statistics, at least 1,146 migrants heading to European countries died at sea between January and June this year.
In 2020, these dangerous crossings claimed the lives of 513 people over the same period. In 2019, it was the lives of 674 people. Overall, the number of migrants heading to Europe by sea has increased by 56 percent this year.
Most migrants – 741, to be precise – died trying to cross the central Mediterranean from Libya to Italy. Another 250 people did not survive while using the route between the West African countries and the Spanish Canary Islands, and 149 people died trying to cross the Western Mediterranean to reach Spain. At least six people drowned on their way to Greece. However, according to IOM, there might be more victims given that many shipwrecks go unnoticed.
Although many factors have contributed to this year’s increase in deaths, such as the rising number of flimsy boats on which migrants try to cross the sea, IOM spokeswoman Safa Msehlli said the main reason was the lack of effective search and rescue operations led by European states.
The restrictions that NGOs have had to deal with have also contributed significantly.
“NGOs focusing on looking for and rescuing migrants have continued to face major obstacles. Most of their ships have been stalled in European ports due to administrative forfeitures and ongoing criminal and administrative proceedings against crew members,” IOM wrote in its report. “IOM calls on states to take immediate and proactive measures to reduce loss of life on maritime migration routes to Europe and to comply with their obligations under international law,” stated IOM Director General António Vitorino.
Title image: In this Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 file photo, migrants are aboard a Cyprus marine police patrol boat as they’re brought to a harbor after being rescued from their own vessel off the Mediterranean island nation’s southeastern coast of Protaras, Cyprus. Cyprus wants the European Union’s border agency Frontex to step in and prevent the flow of migrant arrivals from Turkey that authorities say have stretched the East Mediterranean island nation’s asylum system to its limits. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, File)