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IOM: Record 3,072 migrants killed crossing Mediterranean in 2014

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

More than 3,000 migrants have died trying to cross the Mediterranean so far this year, more than double the previous peak in 2011, the International Organisation for Migration said Sept 29.

Europe is by far the most dangerous destination for "irregular" migrants, the organisation found in a report, with 3,072, or 75 percent, of the 4,077 registered migrant deaths worldwide since January happening in the Mediterranean.

In the 216-page report titled "Fatal Journeys: migrant fatalities across land and sea", IOM said more than 40,000 people had perished since 2000 while migrating -- 22,000 of them while trying to reach Europe.

"It's time to do more than count the number of victims," IOM chief William Lacy Swing said in a statement.

"It's time to engage the world to stop this violence against desperate migrants," added Swing, whose agency is not part of the United Nations but works closely with the world body.

The IOM report comes just weeks after one of the deadliest wrecks on record, when a ship carrying some 500 migrants, including Syrians, Palestinians and Egyptians and an estimated 100 children, sank.

The 11 known survivors have said the traffickers organising their dangerous crossing from North Africa deliberately sank the vessel off Malta.

IOM meanwhile warned that the actual numbers were likely far higher, pointing to the lack of detailed statistics and the fact that many migrants die in remote regions of the world and their deaths are never recorded.

"Some experts now believe that for every dead body discovered there are at least two others that are never recovered," the organisation said.

It said it hoped that the report would shed some light on "a growing epidemic of crime against migrants."

Swing pointed out that one in seven people around the world are currently considered migrants, lamenting the "harsh response to migration in the developed world."

"Limited opportunities for safe and regular migration drive would-be migrants into the hands of smugglers, feeding an unscrupulous trade that threatens the lives of desperate people," he said.

"We need to put an end to this cycle," he said, insisting that "undocumented migrants are not criminals but human beings in need of protection and assistance, and deserving respect."

With AFP

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