Geneva / Rome, 29 January – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has revealed today that nearly 100 people have died or disappeared in the Central and Eastern Mediterranean since the beginning of 2024. The toll is over twice as high as the figure for the same period of 2023, the deadliest year for migrants at sea in Europe since 2016.
Today, IOM’s Director General, Amy Pope, is attending the Italy-Africa Conference in Rome to discuss solutions aimed at protecting migrants. The Conference, “A Bridge for Common Life,” is being attended by more than 20 heads of state and Prime Ministers, including Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Several United Nations agencies, the EU, and the World Bank are represented, along with leaders from across Africa.
“The Italy-Africa Conference is a critical opportunity to discuss unified and sustainable mechanisms to stop further needless loss of human life on treacherous routes, and to protect people on the move,” said Amy Pope, Director General of IOM.
“Even one death is one too many. The latest record of deaths and disappearances is a stark reminder that a comprehensive approach that includes safe and regular pathways – a key strategic pillar for IOM – is the only solution that will benefit migrants and states alike.”
Italy aims to strengthen its role as a bridge between Europe and Africa through a model of cooperation, development, and equal partnership. It will present its plan for a platform of shared ideas for discussion with partners during the conference.
The conference is coming at a time when the number of people presumed to be dead or missing is on the rise. Three “invisible” shipwrecks coming from Libya, Lebanon, and Tunisia within the last six weeks carrying 158 people – are unaccounted for, though IOM has recorded 73 of those people as missing and presumed dead.
On Wednesday, authorities rescued a group of 62 migrants off Cape Greco, Cyprus, who left Lebanon on 18 January. Most are hospitalized and described as severely ill, with several children in a critical condition. One child has since died.
Seven bodies that came ashore in Antayla, Türkiye, in recent days are believed to belong to a group of 85 migrants missing since they set sail from Lebanon on 11 December.
According to the IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, the annual number of migrant deaths and disappearances in all the Mediterranean jumped from 2,048 in 2021, to 2,411 in 2022, and to 3,041 by the end of 2023.
IOM, as Coordinator of the UN Network on Migration, together with other UN agencies and humanitarian partners, is working on recommendations to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in distress and tackle the tragedy of those who risk their lives on dangerous routes.
Note to Editors:
To access resources, policies and practices on the protection of migrants in vulnerable situations, visit IOM’s Migrant Protection Platform, https://migrantprotection.iom.int/en
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
For all Missing Migrants Project Data see here
For Displacement Data, see here
For all other migration data see here
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