UN Says Over 3,000 Migrants Died or Went Missing At Sea Trying to Reach Europe in 2021

The United Nations on Friday said that over 3,000 migrants died or went missing in the Mediterranean and Atlantic while trying to reach Europe last year, calling for urgent support to protect refugees.

In its latest report, UNHCR called for urgent action to combat surging deaths among refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants trying to reach Europe through dangerous journeys by land and sea.

The report said that 1,924 people were reported dead or missing on the Central and Western Mediterranean routes in 2021, while an additional 1,153 perished or went missing while sailing through the Northwest African maritime route to the Canary Islands.

“Most of the sea crossings took place in packed, unseaworthy, inflatable boats, many of which capsized or were deflated leading to the loss of life,” the report said.

UNHCR also warned that the Covid-19 pandemic and related border closures had complicated movement further, and the desperate refugees and migrants were forced to turn to smugglers in order to get help through the journey.

UNHCR called for US$163.5 million to assist and protect thousands of refugees and others from embarking on dangerous journeys along sea and land routes.

“States must ensure unimpeded humanitarian access for the delivery of essential services to people on the move or stranded en route, intercepted at sea, or held in detention centers,” the report added.

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