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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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Pakistan Increases Efforts To Save The U.S.-Afghanistan Peace Talks

Islamabad swiftly welcomed the remarks, which raised official expectations in Pakistan for an official invitation to Prime Minister Khan to visit Washington.

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Imran Khan, Pakistan, Afghanistan,
Imran going around world begging for funds: Sindh CM, VOA

Pakistan has intensified efforts to keep the U.S.-led dialogue with the Afghan Taliban on track, but official sources in Islamabad maintain the responsibility for the “success or failure” of the fledgling peace process rests “exclusively” with the two negotiating sides.

The caution comes as U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, landed in the Pakistani capital Thursday amid expectations a direct meeting could take place between his delegation and Taliban negotiators during his stay in the country.

Prior to his departure Wednesday from Kabul, Khalilzad told reporters that talks with the Taliban will “happen very soon. That’s what we’re working toward.” He did not elaborate further.

Meanwhile, in a significant move, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani telephoned Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday and discussed the efforts being made for bringing peace to Afghanistan.

Afghanistan, Pakistan
U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Pakistani Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua led their respective delegations in talks in Islamabad, Jan. 17, 2019. VOA

Khan’s office said in a statement that Ghani expressed his gratitude for Pakistan’s “sincere facilitation” for Afghan peace and reconciliation.

It said the prime minister “assured President Ghani that Pakistan was making sincere efforts for a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan through an inclusive peace process, as part of shared responsibility.”

Official sources in Islamabad expected “important developments” over the next two days but they would not share further details. “There is no room for missed opportunities” under the circumstances, they insisted.

Pakistani officials maintain in background interviews with VOA that the U.S.-Taliban talks are being facilitated in the hope that they would ultimately lead to an intra-Afghan dialogue for political settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan. All sides in the peace process will share “the credit and benefits of a success,” they insisted.

“Similarly, given sincere desire and efforts of everyone, no one should be exclusively blamed if the main interlocutors fail to agree due to own lack of flexibility that is very much required from both the U.S. and the Taliban at this stage,” a senior official privy to the Pakistani peace diplomacy told VOA.

USA, Pakistan
U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Pakistani Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, Jan. 17, 2019. VOA

Khalilzad arrived in Pakistan from Afghanistan where he briefed Ghani and other top officials of Afghan government on the U.S.-led peace initiative.

The Taliban has held several meetings with Khalilzad’s team in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates but the insurgents have persistently refused to engage directly with the sitting administration in Kabul. Their refusal is blamed for a lack of progress in negotiations that started last summer, after American diplomats gave in to a major Taliban demand and met them directly.

Khalilzad, however, made it clear on Wednesday the insurgent group would have to engage with the Afghan government for the process to move forward.

“The road to peace will require the Taliban to sit with the Afghan government. There is a consensus among all the regional partners on this point,” the Afghan-born U.S. special envoy told reporters in Kabul.

He went on to warn that if the Taliban chose to fight over peace talks, the United States would support the Afghan government.

Afghanistan, Peace Talks, Pakistan
A general view of the Taliban office in Doha, Qatar, May 2, 2015, site of several past negotioations with the Taliban. VOA

The Taliban threatened earlier in the week to pull out of all negotiations if the United States backed away from discussing the key insurgent demand for a troop withdrawal plan and pressured the insurgents into speaking to the Afghan government.

Diplomats privy to the peace process support the U.S. effort for the Taliban to speak directly to the current administration in Kabul to resolve internal Afghan matters. They see the Ghani-led National Unity government as a “legitimate” entity possessing official representation at the United Nations and maintaining diplomatic missions in world capitals.

The last substantial talks between Khalilzad and Taliban officials took place in Abu Dhabi about a month ago and Pakistan took credit for arranging it and bringing an authoritative team of insurgent negotiators to the table.

Officials in Islamabad say that Pakistan’s “biggest contribution” has been that it has “broken the political stalemate that was there in Afghanistan for several years.”

Prime Minister Khan has repeatedly stated that finding a political settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan is a top foreign policy priority for his government. While speaking to Khan on Thursday, Ghani invited him to visit Kabul at his earliest convenience and the Pakistani leader reciprocated by inviting the Afghan president to visit Islamabad.

USA, afghanistan, taliban, peace talks, pakistan
U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, talks with local reporters at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 18, 2018. VOA

Pakistan has long been accused of sheltering Taliban leaders and covertly helping them orchestrate insurgent attacks, charges Islamabad rejects.

U.S. officials, however, acknowledge the “positive role” Pakistan has played in the current Afghan peace effort. The thaw in traditionally mistrusted bilateral ties was visible earlier this month when U.S. President Donald Trump announced he intended to maintain a “great relationship” with Pakistan.

Also Read: Peace Talks With The U.S. Stalled: Taliban

“So, I look forward to meeting with the new leadership in Pakistan. We will be doing that in the not too distant future,” said Trump.

Islamabad swiftly welcomed the remarks, which raised official expectations in Pakistan for an official invitation to Prime Minister Khan to visit Washington, though the Trump administration has so far given no such indication. (VOA)