Immigration: 3,419 dead in Mediterranean in 2014, UNHCR

UN refugee agency, 348,000 risked lives at sea in 2014

10 December, 11:06

    The bodies of migrants dead in a shipwreck of a boat in the Sicily Strait The bodies of migrants dead in a shipwreck of a boat in the Sicily Strait

    (ANSAmed) - GENEVA - At least 3,419 migrants have lost their lives in the Mediterranean Sea since January, said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Wednesday.

    The UN agency also reported that in 2014 a record number of people worldwide - at least 348,000 - risked their lives at sea to emigrate or seek asylum in other countries and at least 4,272 died.

    Most deaths were reported in the Mediterranean - 3,419 - making this crossing the deadliest in the world, stressed UNHCR.

    The illegal nature of these crossings makes it difficult to make comparisons with previous years, said the UN agency.

    However, according to data available, a record number of people carrying out this perilous journey was registered in 2014. And the number of asylum seekers also grew this year.

    Since the beginning of the year, the UNHCR noted, over 207,000 migrants attempted to cross the Mediterranean - three times more than the previous record registered in 2011, when 70,000 migrants fled their countries during the Arab spring.

    With conflicts in Libya, Ukraine and Syria-Iraq, Europe is the main destination of migrants travelling by sea. Almost 80% of departures occur from the Libyan coast towards Italy and Malta.

    Along with the Mediterranean, at least three other navigation routes used by migrants and people fleeing war and persecution were cited: in the Horn of Africa region, 82,680 people crossed the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea in 2014. In South-East Asia, some 54,000 left Bangladesh or Burma towards Thailand and Malaysia. Finally, in the Caribbean, the number reported was 4,775, according to UNHCR.(ANSAmed).

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