Over 2500 dead, missing as 186,000 people cross Mediterranean to Europe in 2023

Over 2500 dead, missing as 186,000 people cross Mediterranean to Europe in 2023
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New York, US: Over 2,500 people died or have gone missing while trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe so far this year, reported Al Jazeera citing the United Nations Refugee Agency.

However, approximately 186,000 people arrived in European countries during the same duration.

Ruven Menikdiwela, director of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in New York, told the UN Security Council that out of the 186,000 people who crossed the Mediterranean, 83 per cent, which makes around 130,000 people landed in Italy, Al Jazeera reported.

Adding to this, she noted that people also landed in some other countries including Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Malta.

Compared to last year, the number of people who died or went missing during the sea crossing has increased this year, the Security Council was told, reported Al Jazeera.

The number of those who died or went missing during the dangerous sea crossing has surged this year compared with last year, the Security Council was told.

“By September 24, over 2,500 people were accounted as dead or missing in 2023 alone,” Menikdiwela said. That number marked a large increase over the 1,680 who died or went missing in the same period in 2022.

Menikdiwela further said that the UN Refugee Agency saw "no end in sight" to the lives lost at sea and on land routes to Europe, which are similarly dangerous.

She explained to the council how the land journey from sub-Saharan African countries to sea crossing departure points on the Tunisian and Libyan coasts “remains one of the world’s most dangerous”, Al Jazeera reported.

“Lives are also lost on land, away from public attention,” Menikdiwela added.

According to the UNHCR official, the migrants and refugees "risk death and gross human rights violations at every step."

Reportedly this year, over 102,000 people attempted to cross the Mediterranean from Tunisia which marks a 260 per cent rise from last year, whereas, more than 45,000 had tried to cross from Libya, she said.

Moreover, these figures presented by UNHCR were similar to those shown by Par Liljert, director of the International Office for Migration (IOM), Al Jazeera reported.

Liljert told the Security Council, “Recent IOM data demonstrates that from January to September 2023, more than 187,000 individuals crossed the Mediterranean in pursuit of a better future and the promise of safety."

He further said, "Tragically, during this same period, IOM recorded 2,778 deaths, with 2,093 of them occurring along the treacherous central Mediterranean route."

“Yet, despite its clear dangers, in 2023, there has been an increase in arrivals to Greece along this route of over 300 per cent, while the number of arrivals in Spain has remained steady, primarily through the Atlantic route to the Canary Islands as compared to the numbers recorded at the same time last year,” he said.

IOM also saw a significant rise in arrivals to Italy, with more than 130,000 in 2023 compared with some 70,000 in 2022, reported Al Jazeera.