Over 3,000 Migrants Dead, Missing in 2021 After Europe Crossing Attempts

Published April 30th, 2022 - 06:39 GMT
Over 3,000 Migrants Dead, Missing in 2021 After Europe Crossing Attempts
Medics wait on the pier as soldiers search for survivors off the coast of the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli on April 24, 2022, after an overloaded migrant boat capsized off north Lebanon during a chase by naval forces. At least six people died, including a little girl, and almost 50 others were rescued after an overloaded migrant boat capsized off north Lebanon during a chase by naval forces, Lebanese officials said. (Photo by Fathi AL-MASRI / AFP)

More than 3,000 migrants died or went missing last year, while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea or Atlantic Ocean, according to a UN Refugee Agency report issued on Friday.

The majority of the attempted crossings took place in "packed, unseaworthy, inflatable boats," which collapsed or otherwise became unusable as they attempted to reach Europe, according to the UNHCR report.

The number of dead or missing migrants is up from 2020, when the agency reported 1,776 people perished while attempting the same crossings.

Migrants typically used one of three routes, with a total of 1,924 people reported dead or missing on the Central and Western Mediterranean passages. An additional 1,153 died or went missing on the Northwest African maritime route to the Canary Islands.

=Another 478 people have also died or gone missing at sea since the beginning of 2022.

The maritime crossing from the West African coast can take up to 10 days. Boats can often drift off course and disappear without a trace, the UN agency said.

Attempted crossings across land borders can be just as dangerous.

=More people have died while on journeys through the Sahara Desert and remote border areas, the report found. Others end up in detention camps or in the captivity of smugglers or traffickers, where they are exposed to "gross human rights violations."

The UNHCR report calls for $163.5 million worth of international financial aid to assist and protect thousands of refugees. The agency is appealing for support to help provide alternatives to the dangerous crossings.

The appeal covers five countries across four different regions connected by the same land and sea routes which are used by migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.

The UNHCR is also urging states to commit to strengthened humanitarian development to address protection.

"States must ensure unimpeded humanitarian access for the delivery of essential services to people on the move or stranded en route, intercepted at sea, or held in detention centers, and to determine whether they have international protection needs," states the report, warning of further tragedies if no action is taken.

A report from the same U.N. agency in February, found migrants seeking protection in Europe are often met with violence, ill-treatment and pushback at multiple EU ports of entry.

"People report being left adrift in life rafts or sometimes even forced directly into the water, showing a callous lack of regard for human life," U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said at the time.

"Equally horrific practices are frequently reported at land borders, with consistent testimonies of people being stripped and brutally pushed back in harsh weather conditions."


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