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Migrants face increasing risks on their journey to Europe, according to UNHCR
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) new report, Desperate Journeys, despite a significant reduction in the number of migrants heading to Europe in 2017 and 2018, migration routes have become increasingly dangerous.
In comparison to 2017, arrivals to Italy in the first three months of 2018 have decreased by 74%. However, the number of migrants entering Spain and Greece has risen in the later part of 2017, and has continued to increase up until today. Nevertheless, all in all, the number of Mediterranean migrant arrivals between January and April 2018 is less than half as high as what it was during the same period in 2017.
Despite a significant reduction in the number of migrants taking on the journey to Europe, the death rate amongst people crossing from Libya has increased. Whereas one for twenty-nine people died trying to reach Italy in the first three months of 2017, the death rate increased to one in every fourteen people during the same period in 2018. According to the UNHCR, due to the efforts undertaken by European countries to close their borders, migrants have had to take more dangerous routes to reach and transit through Europe. Moreover, according to the NGO SOS Mediterranée, rescuing migrants at sea is becoming increasingly difficult as rescue boats have to “negotiate [including with the Libyan Coast Guard] on a case by case basis, at sea and in emergency situations, the evacuation of distressed persons.” Repressive measures are also being taken against NGOs conducting search and rescue operations at sea, on the basis that these organizations are guilty of human trafficking.
Finally, the report sheds light on the deterioration in the health of people arriving from Libya, who land in Europe, weak, thin and in poor health condition and stresses the persistence of abuse and exploitation along migration routes and the specific violence endured by women and unaccompanied children.
This article was originally published in April in the “Veille Europe” of France terre d’asile, available in French HERE.