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  • Writer's pictureDahlia Foundation

More than 2,500 dead, missing as 186,000 cross Mediterranean in 2023

More than 2,500 people have died or gone missing while trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe so far this year, the UN refugee agency said, while approximately 186,000 people have arrived in European countries during the same period.

Ruven Menikdiwela, director of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in New York, told the UN Security Council on Thursday that of the 186,000 who had crossed the Mediterranean, 83 percent – some 130,000 people – landed in Italy. Other countries where people who had crossed the Mediterranean had landed included Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Malta.

The number of those who died or went missing during the dangerous sea crossing has surged this year compared with last year, the Security Council was told.

“By September 24, over 2,500 people were accounted as dead or missing in 2023 alone,” Menikdiwela said. That number marked a large increase over the 1,680 who died or went missing in the same period in 2022.

Menikdiwela said the UN refugee agency saw “no end in sight” to the lives lost at sea and on land routes to Europe, which are similarly dangerous.

The UNHCR official told the council how the land journey from sub-Saharan African countries to sea crossing departure points on the Tunisian and Libyan coasts “remains one of the world’s most dangerous”.

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