GENEVA – The world’s most prominent intergovernmental group tracking world migration has released a report that says already in the year 2015 more than 2,000 migrants have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that most of those killed, 1,930, died trying to get to Italy, while another 60 died attempting to land in Greece.
“Unfortunately, we have now reached a milestone whereby over 2,000 migrants and refugees have died as of this past weekend,” IMO spokesperson Itayi Virri told a press conference in Geneva, where the organization’s offices are located.
Established in 1951, the IOM has grown to 157 member states and is the largest group of its kind; it works to help migrants in need to settle in other nations and to advocate for migrants. They track migration and yearly release reports on all manner of issues revolving around migration.
The organization’s report notes that the route taken by migrants is central to the result. Italy and Greece had a similar number of migrants attempt to cross to their shores, some 97,000 to Italy, about 91,000 to Greece, with those markedly different results. Those 1,930 deaths occurring amongst migrants trying to land in Italy is attributed to their ships taking a route through the central area of the Mediterranean, a more dangerous area to cross.
The IOM noted that maritime forces that work the Mediterranean have done a commendable job in rescuing potential migrants and to date this year have saved 188, 000 lives that may have otherwise been lost. Last week 19 migrants lost their lives trying to gain Italy, dieing in the Channel of Sicily, bringing the total of migrant deaths for the year above the 2,000 mark. Another 456 from that same group were rescued.
IOM Director General William Lacy Swing said migrants are often fleeing tyranny and their treatment by the world is a tragedy. “It is unacceptable that in the 21st century people fleeing from conflict, persecutions, misery and land degradation must endure such terrible experiences in their home countries,” he told media Tuesday. “Not to mention en route, and then die on Europe’s doorstep.”