The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has said in its latest report that more Africans died during irregular migration this year than any other peoples.
In its Missing Migrants Project report released yesterday, the UN agency put the figure of persons who lost their lives globally trying to reach different parts of Europe and North America through irregular migration routes at 2, 479 with Africans topping the list with 860.
The agency said the deaths were recorded across six regions of the world between January 1 and October 15, 2019.
With a total of 1,073 deaths, the Mediterranean Sea tops the list of routes where thousands of migrants lost their lives this year, making it the deadliest irregular migration route.
Since 2014, almost 20,000 Europe-bound migrants fleeing war or poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and Asian countries have lost their lives on the Mediterranean Sea.
The UN agency revealed that 613 migrant deaths were recorded in the Americas and 612 deaths in various parts of Africa.
The Middle East recorded 93 deaths, Europe accounted for 54 while Asia recorded 34 deaths in the period under review.
Africans make up the highest number of dead migrants at 860. The report further stated that the origin of 821 deaths was unknown while 579 deaths were among Americans, with Asia, Europe and the Middle East accounting for 91, 71 and 56 deaths.
“These deaths are alarming and show that irregular migration is ever deadly and dangerous, said the spokesman for the Missing Migrants Project, Mr. Tayo Elegbede.
According to him, migration realities are changing, hence the need for informed decision and thoughtful consideration before embarking on any journey.
“Every day, migration realities are changing. There are stringent migration policies and border control activities in North America; thousands of irregular migrants are not eligible for asylum in Europe and deported annually. In Libya, many stranded migrants are in detention and degrading human conditions; hence, making migration decision should be based on accurate information from trusted sources.
“In the last six years, there has been a trend in migrants’ death. More than 1,000 deaths are recorded on the Mediterranean Sea annually. Almost 20,000 people have lost their lives on the Mediterranean Sea since 2014, and many of them are our brothers and sisters,” he said.
Highlighting the dangers of irregular migration, Elegbede said most migrants usually end up in worse financial and psychological conditions than they were before embarking on the journey, and many die in the attempt to reach their destination.
“Irregular migration costs so much, financially, emotionally, socially, relationally, nationally and globally,” Elegbede noted.
He explained that having requisite information on the realities and risks of irregular migration would help in making better decisions and recognising and avoiding the activities of smugglers and human traffickers.
He urged young Nigerians who are prone to becoming potential irregular migrants to acquire skills that will position them for better livelihood and migration opportunities and reduce the body count on irregular migration routes.