Traffickers killed over 3,000 people at sea last year

More than 3,000 people are said to have disappeared or died at sea trying to reach Europe over the past year, according to statistics from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

UNHCR data states that 1,924 migrants were declared dead or missing along the migration routes of the central and western Mediterranean, while the route to the Spanish Canary Islands resulted in 1,153 deaths and missing.

The new figures, more than 3,000, are far more than the 1,544 dead and missing persons reported by UNHCR for the year leading up to 2021, reports the European Union-funded InfoMigrants website.

So far, in 2022, a total of 478 people have been reported missing or dead at sea, according to UNHCR.

UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo commented on the ongoing tragedy saying: “The journey by sea from coastal West African states such as Senegal and Mauritania to the Canary Islands is long and dangerous and can take up to 10 days, and has added: “Many boats took off course or disappeared without a trace in these waters”.

Since 2013, more than 20,000 migrants have been reported missing or dead at sea in the Mediterranean alone, with a total of 5,143 missing at sea in 2016, the highest year on record.

Human traffickers organize dangerous boat trips, and often for large sums of money, but are also sometimes directly involved in the deaths of the migrants themselves.

In April, three people smugglers were arrested in the Spanish Canary Islands on suspicion of causing the deaths of 25 migrants by throwing them into the sea where they drowned. In some cases, the sadism of human traffickers runs deep, with desperate individuals believing they can cross Europe’s weak borders through traffickers being tortured, raped and murdered by the people who paid to move them.

Now, some warn that 2022 may see the largest number of migrants attempting to enter Europe illegally since the height of the migration crisis in 2016, even with Ukrainian refugees excluded from the figures.

Frontex, the border agency of the European Union, said last month that it had registered at least 40,000 illegal entries into the EU between January and March of this year alone, a figure up 57% compared to the same period in 2021. .

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email to ctomlinson (at)

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