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What are the most dangerous migration routes in the world?

In a matter of just a few days, the world has witnessed two deadly tragedies involving people trying to cross international borders.

On Friday, at least 23 people were killed when a large crowd tried to cross the Melilla fence, which divides that enclave from Spain of Morocco. Three days later, police in the US city of Saint Anthony, Texasdiscovered the bodies of more than 50 people abandoned inside a truck.

LOOK: Who is responsible for the Texas truck tragedy that killed 50 migrants?

The number of crossings along the main migratory routes seems to be increasing after the disruption caused by the covid-19 pandemic, which caused several countries to impose more severe entry restrictions.

Those measures will likely result in higher death tolls, experts warn. The International Organization for Migration (IOM), a UN agency, estimates that since 2014 almost 50,000 migrants have died or disappeared trying to reach places like the United States or the European Union. The agency believes the true number of dead and missing could be higher.

But what are the most dangerous routes in the world for migrants? and why are they?

the central mediterranean

The migratory route through the central Mediterranean is known as one of the most dangerous. (GETTY IMAGES).

According to the IOM, this is the most dangerous route for migrants. It is estimated that more than 19,500 have died trying to navigate the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa to Europe since 2014.

Crossing attempts are often made in improvised and overloaded boatssuch as inflatable boats, which make the journey dangerous and life-threatening.

These boats are often piloted by criminal gangs and human traffickers.

In Tunisia, which with Libya is the main departure point for migrants seeking to reach Europe via the central Mediterranean route, there are a graveyard reserved for those who drown at sea.

“Seeing these graves here makes me feel very sad,” Vicky, a Nigerian migrant hoping to make the journey from Tunisia, told AFP while visiting the cemetery.

“When I see them [las tumbas]I’m not so sure I want to do the sea crossing anymore,” she added.

Agencies like the IOM fear this will not deter other migrants.

“The departure of migrants through the central Mediterranean continues. What is most worrying is the continuous high number of deaths in this very dangerous sea crossing. It continues to claim lives due to the lack of concrete action by the States,” says Safa Msehli, spokesperson for the IOM.

Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, reports that nearly 300,000 people have been rescued trying to use this route since 2015.

Internal routes of Africa

The crossing through the Sahara desert is very dangerous.  (GETTY IMAGES).

The crossing through the Sahara desert is very dangerous. (GETTY IMAGES).

For many African migrants, the dream of reaching Europe begins with a journey across their own continent that involves a long crossing of the Sahara desert, en route to the countries of North Africa.

Harsh environmental conditions are a major threat: the IOM estimates that the Saharan crossing was responsible for the deaths of nearly 5,400 people between 2014 and 2022.

“In the desert you see people dying. Some due to lack of energy, died here. Others, when the water runs out,” migrant Abdullah Ibrahim told the AFP agency about his experience of the crossing.

Another serious threat to migrants is the number of drug gangs operating in the region.

“Violence at the hands of smugglers and border agents in the region also contributes to the deaths that have been recorded in the Sahara desert,” the IOM said in its latest report on the problem.

The US-Mexico border

Migrants try to cross the US-Mexico border.  through various routes.  (GETTY IMAGES).

Migrants try to cross the US-Mexico border. through various routes. (GETTY IMAGES).

Although the migratory routes in the American continent are not all to reach the United States, that is the main goal for many people who seek to make a new life in the region.

The US-Mexico border presents them with a major challenge: the region is known for its inhospitable geography, including desert regions, and migrants frequently try to cross into the US via the dangerous Rio Grande (or Rio Bravo, as it is known in Mexico) that flows through much of the border.

Drowning is one of the leading causes of death on that route which, according to IOM estimates, has claimed more than 3,000 lives since 2014.

Those who try to avoid natural hazards by hiding in vehicles face different threats, like the one that led to the deaths in San Antonio.

“Recently there have been other incidents with great loss of life on migration routes to the US,” said Safa Msehli, the IOM spokeswoman.

In December 2021, 56 migrants died in Chiapas, in southern Mexico, when a truck they were traveling in crashed.

“IOM remains concerned about the dangers of migration from Latin America to the United States,” added Msehli.

Asian Routes

Asia has several bumpy routes for migrants.  (GETTY IMAGES).

Asia has several bumpy routes for migrants. (GETTY IMAGES).

The IOM says that more than 4 out of 10 migrants in the world in 2020 were born in Asiaand that continent has several important migration routes.

According to the UN agency, almost 5,000 people have died or disappeared in Asia in the last eight years.

Most of those deaths are Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants using the sea route to cross the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea to reach a safe haven in neighboring countries, or perhaps try to reach Europe.

The adversities they face during the journey can be extreme.

As on other routes, these migrants are often victims of exploitation by gangs of human traffickers.

Another problematic route is on the border between Iran and Turkey, which has seen the unprecedented influx of Afghan migrants since the Taliban took power in August of last year.

The UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, indicates that more than two million Afghans have registered as refugees in Iran and neighboring countries.

Source: Elcomercio

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