Migrant deaths soar globally, most in Mediterranean: IOM

Migrant deaths soar globally, most in Mediterranean: IOM

Geneva (AFP) - The number of migrants feared to have died this year has soared to nearly 7,200 -- a more than 20-percent increase over 2015 -- with most of the fatalities in the Mediterranean, IOM said Friday.

In total, 7,189 migrants and refugees have died or remain missing on migratory routs around the world, the International Organization for Migration said.

That number is already 1,449 more than in all of 2015.

And since it represents an average of 20 deaths per day, another 200 to 300 people could perish by the end of the year if the trend continues, the Geneva-based IOM warned in a statement.

The Mediterranean Sea routes, used so far this year by nearly 360,000 people seeking a new life in Europe, remains by far the world's deadliest, accounting for over 60 percent of the total number of migrant deaths, the statement said.

As of late Thursday, IOM said 4,812 people had died trying to make the treacherous crossings to Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain since the beginning of 2016.

But it warned that that number was likely already dated, pointing to information it had received Friday that another 88 people were feared missing after a boat carrying 114 was reported sunk off the coast of Zawiya in Libya.

In all of 2015, 3,567 people died crossing the Mediterranean. The significant increase in deaths this year is all the more dramatic considering that the number of arrivals in Europe has fallen by more than half, from 883,393 in 2015 to 357,249 this year, IOM said.

Migrant deaths have also meanwhile risen this year along other migratory routes, including over land in both northern and southern Africa, in Central and Latin America and at the United States-Mexico border, IOM said.