The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Thursday in New York that over 2,500 migrants had already perished or vanished in the Mediterranean in 2023 while attempting to enter Europe.
In comparison to the same period previous year, there were 1,680 dead or missing migrants.
Migrants and refugees “risk death and gross human rights violations at every step,” Ruven Menikdiwela, director of the UNHCR New York office, told the Security Council.
This occurs on the same day that the interior ministers of the European Union convened in Brussels to discuss how to handle migrants who are migrating to Europe by sea amid increased alarm from Italy and Germany, two of the union’s members.
Years of negotiations between member states and the European Parliament on extensive improvements to the bloc’s single refugee system have gone nowhere.
Between January and September 24 of this year, over 186,000 migrants have already entered Europe via the Mediterranean Sea, according to the UNHCR.
130,000 of these had arrived in Italy, an increase of 83% from the previous year. Others arrived in Malta, Cyprus, Greece, and Spain.
In terms of where the migrants came from, 102,000 came from Tunisia and another 45,000 came from Libya.
According to Menikdiwela, some 31,000 individuals were saved at sea or stopped and disembarked in Tunisia and 10,600 in Libya.
Menikdiwela reminded the Security Council that the land journey from sub-Saharan African countries, where many migrants originate, to the departure points on the coast of Libya and Tunisia “remains one of the world’s most dangerous.”
“Lives are also lost on land, away from public attention,” Menikdiwela said.