• Keaton Agius

Migrant Deaths In 2021 Double From Last Year

The IOM (International Organization for Migration) has recently released a report concerning the increase in migrant deaths crossing the Mediterranean during the first six months of 2021 compared to the deaths recorded in the first six months of 2020.

A total of 1,146 deaths have been recorded thus far, which is more than double the 513 deaths confirmed by the UN's IOM in 2020. The deadly Central Mediterranean route, which Malta finds itself in, claimed the bulk majority of lives with at least 741 deaths recorded.

“IOM reiterates the call on States to take urgent and proactive steps to reduce loss of life on maritime migration routes to Europe and uphold their obligations under international law,” says IOM Director General António Vitorino.

This increase in migrant deaths coincides with the shift of rescue responsibilities towards North African countries as Italy continued to clamp down on even more migrant rescue NGOs this year. In total, more than 31,500 people were intercepted or rescued by North African authorities in the first half of 2021, compared to 23,117 in the first six months of 2020.

Libyan coastguard boat carrying around 500 migrants, mostly African, arriving at the port in the city of Misrata

From these operations off the coast of Tunisia, there has been a 90 per cent increase in the first six months of 2021 compared to 2020. In addition, over 15,300 people were returned to Libya in the first six months of 2021, almost three times higher than the same period in 2020 (5,476 people).

An added three deaths occurred recently in Malta's SAR zone, with Maltese Armed Forces reaching the stranded migrants almost 24 hours after their presence was known.

Do you think Europe is responsible for this increase in deaths?

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