2023 Deadliest Year for Migrants: UN-IOM

The year 2023 has been the deadliest year on record for migrants, with at least 8,565 deaths documented by the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Missing Migrants Project. This tragic figure represents a 20 percent increase compared to 2022, underscoring the urgent need for action to prevent further loss of life.

Remembering the Lives Lost

As the Missing Migrants Project marks its tenth year, IOM Deputy Director General Ugochi Daniels emphasized the importance of remembering the lives lost and the impact on families and communities. The alarming figures serve as a reminder of the need for greater action to ensure safe migration for all.

Data on Migrant Deaths 2014-2023

The total number of migrant deaths in 2023 surpassed the previous record year of 2016, which saw 8,084 deaths. Since the inception of the Missing Migrants Project in 2014, slightly more than half of the deaths were a result of drowning, with nine percent caused by vehicle accidents and seven percent by violence.

Deadliest Migration Routes

The Mediterranean crossing remains the deadliest route for migrants on record, with at least 3,129 deaths and disappearances in 2023, the highest death toll in the region since 2017. Unprecedented numbers of migrant deaths were also recorded across Africa (1,866) and Asia (2,138), with most deaths in Africa occurring in the Sahara Desert and the sea route to the Canary Islands, and hundreds of deaths of Afghan and Rohingya refugees recorded in Asia.

Challenges in Data Collection

Since its establishment in 2014, the Missing Migrants Project has documented more than 63,000 cases worldwide. However, the true figure is estimated to be much higher due to challenges in data collection, particularly in remote locations and on maritime routes where boats may disappear without a trace.

Importance of the Missing Migrants Project

The Missing Migrants Project serves as the sole indicator measuring the level of ‘safety’ of migration in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Its upcoming report will provide detailed analysis of missing migrants data from 2023 and key facts and figures over the last ten years.

About IOM

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is the principal United Nations Related Organization working in the field of migration. Established in 1951, IOM is the leading intergovernmental organization thta works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners. With 175 member states, a further 8 states holding observer status and offices in 171 countries, IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. It does so by providing services and advice to governments and migrants.


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