Global migrant deaths decline amid continued tragedies in 2019


Compared to last year, 2019 saw a sharp decline in the number of migrants dying while attempting to cross international borders.

Migrant fatalities reached at least 3,170 by mid-December, compared to just over 4,800 this time last year, representing a 34% fall. Despite this, the trends identified by IOM in 2019 remain stark for migrants and for refugees.

The Mediterranean, the scene of countless tragedies at sea in recent years, recorded the lowest level of deaths and crossings since 2014. However, the death rate among migrants departing Libya’s shores increased as smugglers put them at ever great risk.

The outflow of people from Venezuela has meanwhile left millions of people in severe hardship as they attempt to escape instability to seek opportunities and protection in neighbouring countries.

The emerging trends highlighted by IOM in 2019 include:

Global deaths of migrants crossing borders irregularly declined sharply

Mediterranean Sea crossings reached their lowest level since 2014

Horn of Africa crossings to Yemen now average over 10,000 persons per month

4.8 million Venezuelans are living abroad, mostly in Colombia, Perú, Chile, Ecuador and Brazil

Mediterranean Sea crossings by irregular migrants from Africa, the Middle East and South Asia

Irregular migration continues to be a lethal endeavor around the world, with the Mediterranean corridor still the deadliest. Through mid-December at least 1,250 men, women and children had died attempting to reach Europe via the Mediterranean, including eight new victims reported on 17 December by authorities in Morocco.

This year marks the fifth straight of at least 1,000 deaths on the Mediterranean. IOM’s Missing Migrants project reports that, since 2014, more than 19,000 migrants and refugees have died on the Mediterranean Sea, more than two thirds of that total perishing on the central Mediterranean route linking Libya and Tunisia to Italy.

Worldwide, migrant fatalities through 50 weeks of 2019 are slightly more than 3,170, compared to nearly 4,831 at this same time last year. Fatalities are down on the Mediterranean, in North Africa and the Middle East and Asia, and up slightly in Europe.

By contrast, the number of migrant fatalities in the Western Hemisphere is up. Hundreds have died fleeing Venezuela, including in shipwrecks in the Caribbean. Through Mid-December at least 659 men, women and children have died crossing the Americas, which compares with 583 during the same period last year. (Source: IOM)