More than 3,000 people (3,077 to be exact) lost their lives last year fleeing their country to reach Europe by sea. “Of this total, 1,924 people were declared dead or missing on the roads of the central Mediterranean West Africa, while another 1,153 died or went missing on the sea route from northwest Africa to the Canary Islands,” a spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency said on Friday. (UNHCR) in Geneva, Shabia Mantoo.

This is double the death toll from 2020, when 1,544 fatalities were reported for both routes. “Alarmingly, since the beginning of the year, 478 additional people have died or gone missing at sea,” said Shabia Mantoo.

Dangerous crossings

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting border closures have had an impact on migration flows, with many refugees and migrants turning to smugglers in an attempt to reach Europe despite everything. Most sea crossings are in overcrowded inflatable boats in poor condition, UNHCR says. Many of these boats deflate or capsize, resulting in the death of the occupants.

“The sea voyage from West African coastal states, such as Senegal and Mauritania, and the Canary Islands is long and perilous and can take up to 10 days,” the spokeswoman said. UNHCR, during a regular press briefing by UN agencies in Geneva. “Many boats have strayed from their course or disappeared without a trace in these waters,” she continued.


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