Home country conflict big contributor to migrant deaths – IOM

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One in three migrant deaths can be attributed to people fleeing conflict, an International Organisation for Migration (IOM) report has it, adding two of every three documented migrant deaths remain unidentified.

The United Nations (UN) agency’s 2023 report notes the year just passed was the deadliest on record with 8 541 migrants dying and 60% of deaths linked to drowning.

To date this year trends “are just as alarming”. Statistics from the Mediterranean show “arrivals” lower – at 16 818 – than for the corresponding period last year when there were 26 984 recorded migrant arrivals. Deaths, the IOM said, are “nearly as high as before” with 956 registered since 1 January.

The IOM missing migrant project shows the remains of 26 666 people who die during migration have not been recovered.

“Despite the many lives lost whose identities remain unknown, we know almost 5 500 females perished on migration routes during the last 10 years and the number of identified children is nearly 3 500,” said Ugochi Daniels, IOM Deputy Director General for Operations, commenting on the recent findings. The report suggests the true number of women and children deaths is likely far higher as there are more than 37 000 dead for who no information on sex or age is available.

IOM statistics show at least one in three dead migrants, where origins were identified, are from countries in conflict or with large refugee populations, the study finds. That highlights dangers faced by those attempting to flee conflict zones without safe pathways, the agency underscored. The deadliest route is the central Mediterranean where at least 23 092 people have died since 2014.

Daniels called for more and detailed information collection to facilitate creation of safer migration routes for people fleeing conflict and distress in their home countries.

Against this background, the UN agency has adopted a new strategic plan covering the 2024/28 period. It aims to save lives and protect people on the move as its first objective. To do so, IOM is calling on countries and other partners to work jointly to end migrant deaths and address the impacts of the tens of thousands of lives lost on migratory routes worldwide.