Aug 11, 2023, 12:54pm EDT

Migrant deaths in the Mediterranean are the highest in four years

REUTERS/Mauro Buccarello

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The News

More migrants have died in the Mediterranean this year than in any full year since 2018, according a United Nations tracker, which had the 2023 death toll as 2063.

The figures reflect nearly daily reports of tragedies suffered by those attempting to enter Europe. Last week, 41 migrants died in a shipwreck on the way to the Italian island of Lampedusa. They had set off from Tunisia — where 11 bodies were recovered from a separate incident.

We’ve curated reporting and insights into what the staggering figures reveal about the worsening crisis across the world.

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  • One in every 21 migrants dies while traversing through the Central Mediterranean –– the most popular, but also the riskiest route from the North African coast to Italy or Malta. — Le Monde
  • It’s a crisis that is affecting young Africans. People aged 15 to 24 make up 54% of the labor force across Africa, but in countries like Senegal, they are battling “high unemployment, climate-related disasters, and social unrest,” pushing them to leave. — Bloomberg
  • The West should be asking, “How has the mass drowning of people become normalized?" said Sally Hayden, an Irish Times reporter on migration and conflict. The increasing migrant drownings are the result of a “global inequality crisis,” Hayden said, because people can’t get visas or fly on planes. — CNN
  • The rhetoric around the EU’s deal with Tunisia to address the migrant crisis is to prevent drownings, but the “the reality is about preventing people from coming to Europe,” argued Anand Menon, a Professor of European Politics at King’s College London. European politicians are so “terrified by migration from Africa,” Menon said, that they will do anything to stop it, including “dealing with dictators” in Tunisia. — PBS
  • The Mediterranean is not the only hotspot for migrant drownings. On Monday, 17 people died in a shipwreck carrying Rohingya refugees from Myanmar to Malaysia off the Burmese coast. The Rohingya, a Muslim minority group in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, are among the most persecuted people in the world. More than 3,500 Rohingya attempted to cross the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal last year –– 700 more than in 2021. — The Guardian