CAIRO (AP) – The United Nations said Tuesday that last year was the deadliest for migrants in the Middle East and North Africa since 2017.
Nearly 3,800 people died on sea and land routes of migrants in and out of the region, according to figures released by the International Organization for Migration’s Missing Migrants Project.
The tally is an 11% increase over the 3,428 deaths recorded in 2021, and the most since 2017, when the project documented 4,255 deaths in the region.
“This alarming death toll on migration routes in and out of the MENA region calls for urgent attention and concerted efforts to enhance the safety and security of migrants,” said Othman Belbesi, Director of the IOM.
The data shows that more than half of the 6,877 project deaths worldwide have occurred in this region. The project, however, said the true number was likely much higher than the 3,789 documented fatalities, given the lack of official figures and limited access to land routes in the region for civil society and international organizations.
On the region’s land routes, IOM’s project documented more than 1,025 deaths, while the rest occurred on Europe’s sea routes, particularly in the eastern Mediterranean, which is one of the deadliest in the world.
The data showed most of the deaths on the ground occurred in war-torn Yemen, where the IOM says “targeted violence against migrants has intensified.”
The IOM project states that at least 795 people, mostly Ethiopians, lost their lives on a route between Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Most of the deaths occurred in Yemen’s northern province of Saada, which is a stronghold of the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
East African migrants used to cross the Bab al-Mandab, a 31-mile (50-kilometre) strait separating Djibouti and Yemen, on small boats, with the aim of crossing Yemen into neighboring Saudi Arabia and then other wealthy Arab Gulf states. I had to go Looking for work
Libya, which in recent years has become a transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa to Europe, recorded 117 deaths on land routes, followed by neighboring Algeria with 54. As the data shows.
The IOM report highlighted increasing efforts to cross the sea from Lebanon to Greece. It said at least 174 people were reported killed last year.