You are looking for a safer or better life in Europe and you find death in the Mediterranean.

According to the UN migration organization IOM, a total of 1,447 people died there in 2020.

But at least the number of deaths has been decreasing every year since the tragic high in 2016 (5143) because of the overall decline in crossings.

Although this trend continued in the Corona year 2020, the situation in the Mediterranean is still worse than in the period before 2014.

The first sad climax was reached in 2007, when around 630 people lost their lives on the Mediterranean routes according to IOM estimates.

The situation then eased again to reach a new high of around 1500 during the 2011 revolution in Tunisia.

The deaths then went back again to 2013 (700), only to reach a previously unknown extent in 2014 (3320).


Since then, the most deaths have occurred every year on the central Mediterranean route from North Africa to Italy.

There it was also shown that an expansion of the state rescue missions does not necessarily lead to a decrease in deaths, as is often assumed: After a tragic shipwreck off Lampedusa in October 2013, Italy started the "Mare Nostrum" rescue mission and left naval ships around the clock patrol the sea.

In the following year, the number of crossings on this route quadrupled (170,000) and deaths even more than quadrupled (3,165).

At the end of 2014, the Italian rescue mission was replaced by an even larger EU mission.

In 2016, the year of most sea rescue missions, more people died on the central route than ever before: 4581 were registered there by IOM at the time.

Desolate conditions in Libyan centers

Since the cooperation with the sometimes brutal Libyan coastguard was expanded in 2017 and the state sea rescue service of the EU was scaled back, far fewer people have been taken across the sea to Italy and far fewer have been killed.


According to the IOM, there were 2,853 deaths that year, 1314 in 2018 and 983 last year. According to EU data, the Libyan coast guard intercepted around 9,500 migrants at sea last year, almost half of all people who moved from North Africa in 2020 Open a civil war country to Europe.

When they return, they are often shabbily housed in closed centers;

almost 8000 people are currently said to live there in such facilities.

Since then, fewer fatalities have been recorded on the dangerous routes on the African continent to the coast.

In North Africa, including the Sahara, IOM counted around 1500 perished migrants in the extreme year of 2016, around 1000 in 2017, around 730 in 2018 and around 400 in 2020.

The organization assumes, however, that significantly more people are actually killed - with regard to the Mediterranean, however, there are more and better sources, which is why the figures should be closer to reality than in the case of North Africa.

According to the IOM, many deaths are not reported or corpses are not even discovered in remote regions.


The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) assumes that even more African migrants have died on the routes to the Mediterranean than at sea in recent years.

An estimated 600 dead on the Canary Islands route

For half a year now, the Atlantic route from West Africa to the Canary Islands, which was rarely used due to its particularly dangerous nature, has been causing increasing concern.

In 2020, almost 23,000 people arrived there.

IOM does not have as meaningful data for this route, which is up to 2,400 kilometers long, as it does for the Mediterranean.

But after evaluating media reports and migrant surveys, it estimates that 600 migrants were killed there in 2020 - three times more than in the previous year.

This route tragically refutes the thesis that boat migration only takes place on a large scale when there are major rescue missions.

In an internal analysis, the migration department of the EU Commission names the poor economic situation in the Corona crisis as the main reasons for the drastically increased number of crossings on the Atlantic route.

On the other hand, the already low risk of deportation for the men, mostly from Morocco and sub-Saharan countries, with no great chances of asylum, has decreased significantly in the course of the pandemic.

This text is from WELT AM SONNTAG.

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Source: WORLD