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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
  • 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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Roopkund Bones Study Reveals Mediterranean Migrants in Himalayas

Mediterranean migrants in the Himalayas: Roopkund bones study

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Himalayas
The study involving 28 researchers from institutions in India, the US and Europe revealed that the skeletons belonged to three genetically distinct groups. Pixabay

A study by an international team of scientists has revealed that ancient DNA from mysterious skeletons found in and around Roopkund Lake show there were Mediterranean migrants in Himalayas.

The study involving 28 researchers from institutions in India, the US and Europe revealed that the skeletons belonged to three genetically distinct groups.

The study, published in popular science journal ‘Nature Communications’, covered 38 skeletons found in Roopkund Lake and once thought to have died during a single catastrophic event. However, researchers found that they died in multiple periods separated by at least 1,000 years.

Genome-wide ancient DNA reveals that 23 of the individuals had ancestry that falls within the range of variation of present-day South Asians. A further 14 had ancestry typical of the eastern Mediterranean while one individual was found with Southeast Asian-related ancestry.

According to Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), which was part of the study, it was the first ancient DNA ever reported from India.

Nestled deep in the Himalayan mountains at 5,029 metres above sea level, Roopkund Lake is colloquially referred to as “Skeleton Lake” due to the remains of several hundred ancient humans scattered around its shores.

Himalayas
Nestled deep in the Himalayan mountains at 5,029 metres above sea level, Roopkund Lake is colloquially referred to as “Skeleton Lake”. Pixabay

“Little was known about the origin of these skeletons, as they have never been subjected to systematic anthropological or archaeological scrutiny, in part due to the disturbed nature of the site, which is frequently affected by rockslides, and which is often visited by local pilgrims and hikers who have manipulated the skeletons and removed many of the artifacts,” says the study.

“There have been multiple proposals to explain the origins of these skeletons. Local folklore describes a pilgrimage to the nearby shrine of the mountain goddess, Nanda Devi, undertaken by a king and queen and their many attendants, who “due to their inappropriate, celebratory behaviour” were struck down by the wrath of Nanda Devi. It has also been suggested that these are the remains of an army or group of merchants who were caught in a storm. Finally, it has been suggested that they were the victims of an epidemic.”

The researchers analyzed the remains using a series of bioarcheological analyses, including ancient DNA, stable isotope dietary reconstruction, radiocarbon dating, and osteological analysis.

They obtained genome-wide data from 38 individuals by extracting DNA from powder drilled from long bones, producing next-generation sequencing libraries, and enriching them for approximately 1.2 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from across the genome.

Himalayas
According to Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), which was part of the study, it was the first ancient DNA ever reported from India. Pixabay

A total of 76 skeletal samples (72 long bones and four teeth) were sampled at the Anthropological Survey of India, Kolkata. Skeletal sampling was performed in dedicated ancient DNA facilities at CCMB in Hyderabad.

A subset of samples were further processed at Harvard Medical School, Boston.

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“We first became aware of the presence of multiple distinct groups at Roopkund after sequencing the mitochondrial DNA of 72 skeletons. While many of the individuals possessed genetic information typical of present-day Indian populations, we also identified a large number of individuals with genetic makeup that would be more typical of populations from West Eurasia (a term used in the study to refer to the cluster of ancestry types common in Europe, the Near East, and Iran)” says Kumarasamy Thangaraj, co-senior author and chief scientist at CCMB.

Dr Kumarasamy and then CCMB director Dr Lalji Singh, who is no more, had initiated the work of sampling the skeletons at ancient DNA lab more than a decade ago. (IANS)