Geneva/Tripoli – A shipwreck off the coast of Libya Saturday that claimed the lives of 61 migrants is a stark reminder of the need for states to urgently address the mounting death toll on the world’s most dangerous maritime crossing where 2,571 people have died so far this year.
“What happened over the weekend off the coast of Libya is beyond heartbreaking; no human being should have to go through what they did,” said IOM Director General Amy Pope.
“This tragedy, which occurred just two days before the world marks International Migrants Day, is further compelling evidence of the risks people will take in order to improve their lives, and of our collective obligation to find better, safer pathways for people on the move.”
According to the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Missing Migrants Project (MMP), 28,320 men, women and children have died or disappeared on the Mediterranean Sea since 2014. Nearly 90 percent (2,271) of those who have died or disappeared there in 2023 – the highest recorded since 2017 – were crossing the Central Mediterranean route.
Delays in State-led rescues and diminishing NGO-led efforts on the Central Mediterranean route have been important factors leading to the loss of more lives.
IOM reiterates its call for States to re-prioritize and strengthen cooperation in coordinated search and rescue operations (SAR), reminds all maritime vessels, including commercial ships, have a legal obligation to provide rescue to boats in distress, and appeals for concerted action to dismantle criminal smuggling networks and to prosecute those responsible for facilitating these dangerous journeys.
Major incidents this year included a fishing boat carrying migrants trying to reach Europe that capsized and sank off the coast of Greece in June, leaving at least 86 dead and 510 missing in one of the worst disasters of its kind on record.
Documented deaths are likely an undercount of the true number of lives lost on the Mediterranean. The Missing Migrants Project regularly investigates reports of invisible shipwrecks- cases in which boats are reported missing, where there are no records of survivors, remains or SAR operations.
IOM is calling for action to harness the potential of migration and migrants as a part of the solution to global issues that the world faces today, including development and climate change. Saving lives and facilitating safe, regular migration routes is a prerequisite for this to take place.
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