Drowning of 27 migrants in the English Channel is the worst disaster ever: IOM – Global Issues

The incident constituted the single largest loss of human life in the English Channel since the UN Migration Agency, IOM, began recording data in 2014.

Another 106 migrants were rescued in French waters alone on Wednesday.

Risks everything

An ever-increasing number of people attempt the journey in small, unseaworthy boats while fleeing conflict or poverty or persecution in Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq, Eritrea and elsewhere.

According to the International Organization for Migration, 166 migrants have been registered dead or missing in the English Channel since 2014, and 22,930 have been registered dead or missing in the Mediterranean.

European tragedy

The UNHCR says an estimated 1,600 people have died or disappeared in the Mediterranean this year while trying to reach Europe from North African states or Turkey. Hundreds have died in the Atlantic off the coast of West Africa on a migrant route to Spain’s Canary Islands.

Since the start of the year, well over 31,000 have attempted the dangerous passage between France and Britain, and 7,800 people have been rescued at sea, French authorities have reportedly said.

Before Wednesday’s tragedy, 14 people drowned this year in an attempt to reach Britain, a French maritime official said. Last year, a total of seven people died and two disappeared in the English Channel.

Search and rescue calls

In July, IOM Director General António Vitorino called for “urgent and proactive steps” to reduce the loss of human life for migrants traveling by dangerous sea routes to Europe.

His appeal followed a sharp rise in the number of deaths in the first six months of the year -oneat least 1,146 people died as they tried to reach Europe by boatfrom January to June, the UN Migration Agency said.

“Increased search and rescue efforts, establishment of predictable landing mechanisms and ensuring access to safe and legal migration routes,” the IOM Director General maintained.

Canary forecast

In September, the IOM reported a sharp increase in the number of deaths and disappearances of migrants at sea en route to Spain’s Canary Islands along the West African coast. By the end of September, 785 people, including 177 women and 50 children, had died or disappeared by 2021.

Among the UN’s recommendations to states to prevent further tragedies, the UNHCR has reiterated the importance of continuing to raise awareness of the risks associated with crossings at sea and of the false information provided by smugglers exploiting the plight of children, women and men who have left their home countries.

The development of legal and secure channels such as family reunification visas is crucial to ensuring the safety of migrants, the UN agency insisted.

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