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More than 2,500 people out of 186,000 died and went missing crossing the Mediterranean in 2023

Over 2,500 people have died or gone missing trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe this year, according to the UN refugee agency.

Ruven Menikdiwela, director of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in New York, informed the UN Security Council on Thursday that of the 186,000 people who crossed the Mediterranean, 83 per cent – about 130,000 people – landed in Italy. Other countries where the migrants landed include Greece, Spain, Cyprus, and Malta.

By September 24, over 2,500 people were accounted as dead or missing in 2023 alone.

Last year, 1,680 people died or went missing during the same period.

A UNHCR representative told the council that the land route from sub-Saharan Africa to the starting points of the sea crossing on the Tunisian and Libyan coasts “remains one of the world’s most dangerous.”

“Lives are also lost on land, away from public attention.”

According to Menikdiwela, more than 102,000 people tried to cross the Mediterranean from Tunisia, a 260 per cent increase over last year, and more than 45,000 tried to cross from Libya.

Par Liljert, director of the International Office for Migration (IOM), presented the same statistics as UNHCR.

Recent IOM data demonstrates that from January to September 2023, more than 187,000 individuals crossed the Mediterranean in pursuit of a better future and the promise of safety.

He noted that within the same period, IOM recorded 2,778 deaths, of which 2,093 occurred at the most dangerous sea crossing.

“Yet, despite its clear dangers, in 2023, there has been an increase in arrivals to Greece along this route of over 300 percent, while the number of arrivals in Spain has remained steady, primarily through the Atlantic route to the Canary Islands as compared to the numbers recorded at the same time last year.”

The IOM also noted a huge increase in arrivals to Italy, with 130,000 this year compared to around 70,000 in 2022.

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