Global migrant deaths up 20 per cent in 2016, driven by record fatalities in the Mediterranean

Refugees and migrants arriving on the shore of the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey on Sept 28, 2015.
Refugees and migrants arriving on the shore of the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey on Sept 28, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

GENEVA (AFP) - Migrant deaths worldwide this year have surged above 5,200 - a 20 per cent increase on 2015 - driven by record fatalities in the Mediterranean, the International Organisation for Migration said on Friday (Oct 28).

In total, 5,238 people have perished since January 1, or 951 more than at the same point in 2015, the Geneva-based IOM said in a statement.

The Mediterranean Sea route, used by nearly 330,000 people in 2016 seeking a new life in Europe, remains the world's deadliest.

The UN refugee agency said this week that Mediterranean migrant fatalities had hit a record 3,800.

IOM put the number of dead and missing on that route at 3,930 for the year, but the two partner agencies often have different figures.

Migrant deaths also rose to 500 this year in Latin America, with people on the move killed by a range of causes including dehydration, vehicle accidents and murder.

IOM noted that in 60 per cent of cases, the bodies of migrants who perish are never recovered.