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About 60,000 Migrants are Dead or Missing in the Past 2 Decades

The International Organization for Migration estimates 5,400 migrants globally died or were recorded as missing in 2015

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Syrians and Iraqi Refugees. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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  • Majority of known deaths in the last two years have occurred in the Mediterranean region
  • The rate of death across the central Mediterranean route, we estimate is approximately one in 23 person
  • The Turkey-EU agreement intended to provide legal migrant routes to Europe has largely choked off the eastern Mediterranean Sea route from Turkey to Greece

A report from the  International Organization for Migration (IOM) found at least 60,000 migrants died or disappeared at sea or on land routes over the past two decades. IOM considers the real number to be much higher because many bodies are never found or identified.

The report said the majority of known deaths in the last two years have occurred in the Mediterranean region. The International Organization for Migration estimates 5,400 migrants globally died or were recorded as missing in 2015.

This year, IOM has documented more than 3,400 migrant deaths worldwide.  Director of IOM’S Global Migration Data Analysis Center Frank Laczko said  more than 80 percent of the deaths were people attempting to reach Europe by sea.

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“The rate of death across the central Mediterranean route, we estimate is approximately one in 23 persons,” he said. “The one in 23 persons who have tried to cross the central Mediterranean have died or are unaccounted for among migrants this year, which is a shocking statistic.”

The Turkey-EU agreement intended to provide legal migrant routes to Europe has largely choked off the eastern Mediterranean Sea route from Turkey to Greece. So most migrants are making the dangerous sea crossing from Libya to Italy. Laczko said the risk of death on the route has increased, but the actual volume of people crossing the Mediterranean has not increased as much as expected.

Refugees of the Vlora at the port of Bari (Italy) on 8 August 1991. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Refugees of the Vlora at the port of Bari (Italy) on 8 August 1991. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

He told VOA there has not been a substantial increase in the number of people coming from Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

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“There has been fears that with the closing of the eastern Mediterranean route, we would see substantial increases in migrants turning to the central Mediterranean route,” he said. “It still seems to be predominantly dominated by migrants from sub-Saharan African countries.”

Laczko said about 10 percent are from Nigeria, another 10 percent from Eritrea and most of the remaining migrants are from West and East Africa. He noted migrant death rates in southeast Asia are as high as those in the Mediterranean, though the volume of people crossing the sea in that region is lower. (VOA)

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  • AJ Krish

    This is shocking. A proper investigation must be done to determine the cause. It doesn’t make sense that only migrants go missing and end up dead.

  • sahil nandwani

    This is really very shocking news!! The 60,000 migrants are dead or missing. The international organizations should have to take a deep investigation about this matter.

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Opium Cultivation Goes Down by 20% in Afghanistan: UN

It noted that opium poppy weeding and harvesting provided for the equivalent of up to 354,000 full-time jobs to rural areas in 2017.

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oPIUM CULTIVATION
In this April 11, 2016, photo, farmers harvest raw opium at a poppy field in the Zhari district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan. VOA

A new United Nations survey finds that opium cultivation in Afghanistan has decreased by 20 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year, citing a severe drought and falling prices of dry opium at the national level.

The total opium-poppy cultivation area decreased to 263,000 hectares, from 328,000 hectares estimated in 2017, but it was
still the second highest measurement for Afghanistan since the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) began monitoring in 1994.

The potential opium production decreased by 29 percent to 6,400 tons from an estimated 9,000 tons in 2017.

The UNODC country representative, Mark Colhoun, while explaining factors behind the reduction told reporters in Kabul the farm-gate prices of dry opium at the harvest time fell to $94 per kilogram, the lowest since 2004.

Afghanistan, Opium cultivation
FILE – Afghan farmers collect raw opium as they work in a poppy field in Khogyani district of Jalalabad east of Kabul, Afghanistan, May 10, 2013. VOA

The decreases, in particular in the northern and western Afghan regions, were mainly attributed to the severe drought that hit the country during the course of the last year, he added.

“Despite these decreases, the overall area under opium-poppy cultivation is still the highest ever recorded. This is a clear challenge to security and safety for the region and beyond. It is also a threat to all countries to and through which these drugs are trafficked as well as to Afghanistan itself,” said Colhoun.

He warned that more high-quality low-cost heroin will reach consumer markets across the world, with increased consumption and related harms as a further likely consequence.

“The significant levels of opium-poppy cultivation and illicit trafficking of opiates will further fuel instability, insurgency and increase funding to terrorist groups in Afghanistan,” he said.

 

Afghanistan, Opium cultivation
Raw opium from a poppy head is seen at a poppy farmer’s field on the outskirts of Jalalabad, afghanistan. VOA

A new United Nations survey finds that opium cultivation in Afghanistan has decreased by 20 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year, citing a severe drought and falling prices of dry opium at the national level.

The total opium cultivation area decreased to 263,000 hectares, from 328,000 hectares estimated in 2017, but it was
still the second highest measurement for Afghanistan since the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) began monitoring in 1994.

The potential opium production decreased by 29 percent to 6,400 tons from an estimated 9,000 tons in 2017.

The UNODC country representative, Mark Colhoun, while explaining factors behind the reduction told reporters in Kabul the farm-gate prices of dry opium at the harvest time fell to $94 per kilogram, the lowest since 2004.

The decreases, in particular in the northern and western Afghan regions, were mainly attributed to the severe drought that hit the country during the course of the last year, he added.

Opium cultivation
Afghan security personnel watch as flames and smoke rise after opium and narcotics are burned in a ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan. VOA

“Despite these decreases, the overall area under opium-poppy cultivation is still the highest ever recorded. This is a clear challenge to security and safety for the region and beyond. It is also a threat to all countries to and through which these drugs are trafficked as well as to Afghanistan itself,” said Colhoun.

He warned that more high-quality low-cost heroin will reach consumer markets across the world, with increased consumption and related harms as a further likely consequence.

“The significant levels of opium-poppy cultivation and illicit trafficking of opiates will further fuel instability, insurgency and increase funding to terrorist groups in Afghanistan,” he said.

Colhoun noted that while there is no single explanation for the continuing high levels of opium-poppy cultivation, rule of law-related challenges such as political instability, lack of government control and security as well as corruption have been found to be among the main drivers of illicit cultivation.

The UNODC survey estimated that the total farm-gate value of opium production decreased by 56 percent to $604 million, which is equivalent to three percent of Afghanistan’s GDP, from $1.4 billion in 2017. The lowest prices strongly undermined the income earned from opium cultivation by farmers.

 Afghan security personnel watch as flames and smoke rise after opium and narcotics are burned in a ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan
Field Of poppies, Opium. Pixabay

The study finds that 24 out of the 34 Afghan provinces grew the opium-poppy in 2018, the same number as in the previous year.

The survey found that 69 percent of the opium poppy cultivation took place in southern Afghanistan and the largest province of Helmand remained the leading opium-poppy cultivating region followed by neighboring Kandahar and Uruzgan and Nangarhar in the east.

It noted that poppy opium cultivation weeding and harvesting provided for the equivalent of up to 354,000 full-time jobs to rural areas in 2017.

A U.S. government agency, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), has noted in its latest report that as of September 30, Washington’s counternarcotics-related appropriations for the country had reached almost $9 billion.

Also Read: The Elections in Afghanistan

“Despite the importance of the threat narcotics pose to reconstruction and despite massive expenditures for programs including poppy-crop eradication, drug seizures and interdictions, alternative-livelihood support, aviation support, and incentives for provincial governments, the drug trade remains entrenched in Afghanistan, and is growing,” said Sigar, which monitors U.S. civilian and military spendings in the country. (VOA)