Over 63,000 migrant deaths reveal alarming levels of fatality due to fleeing conflict, IOM report says

More than 600 migrants and refugees died in two Mediterranean shipwrecks over a decade ago, prompting the U.N. migration agency to start recording the number of people who died or went missing while fleeing conflict, persecution, or poverty.

Despite global pledges to save migrant lives and fight smugglers, a report by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) shows that migrant deaths have increased, the Associate Press reported yesterday.

Since tracking began in 2014, over 63,000 have died or gone missing, with 2023 being the deadliest year yet, the report indicated.

According to IOM, the difficulty in obtaining and verifying information means that the actual number of lives lost worldwide is likely higher.

Even when deaths are recorded, more than two-thirds of the victims remain unidentified, often due to lack of resources or priority, IOM officials have stressed.

Of the victims whose nationalities were known to IOM, about 33% died while fleeing countries in conflict, the report has highlighted.

It adds that nearly 60% of the deaths recorded by the IOM in the last decade were related to drowning, with the Mediterranean Sea being the world’s largest migrant grave with more than 28,000 deaths recorded in the last decade.

The report emphasizes that search and rescue capacities to assist migrants at sea must be strengthened, in line with international law and the principle of humanity.

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