About 25 African migrants die every week – some 1,300 annually – before they ever leave the African continent or take the risks of the dangerous Mediterranean Sea or Gulf-route journeys.
That’s according to International Organization of Migration , which has published new numbers through its Missing Migrants Project (MMP) report.
Since 2014, more than 7,400 men, women and children have died in transit across Africa, the new records show. “These figures fail to capture the true scale of the tragedy, as they represent only fatalities which have been reported,” the UN migration agency said. It’s also likely that the deaths themselves are underreported.
The data are supported by interviews conducted by the Monitoring Mechanism Initiative (4Mi) in West, North and East Africa between December 2018 and April 2019.
“Records show that thousands of people lose their lives as they journey through North Africa,” the IOM said. “However, deaths in this region are not well documented, and the true number of lives lost during migration remains unknown.”
The sub-Saharan migration routes also are dangerous, with 1,830 deaths recorded by the project since 2014. Many of these deaths were recorded in West Africa.
The Horn of Africa routes across the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea have claimed at least 1,171 people since 2014. “Migrants reported having witnessed others die from starvation, dehydration, exposure to harsh weather conditions, vehicle accidents and violence at the hands of smugglers,” the IOM said.
Unfortunately, survey data contain no information on the identities of those whom survey participants witnessed die. Beyond initiatives like 4Mi, little efforts have been made to collect more information on people who die on migration journeys in the African continent. Their remains may never be recovered, nor their deaths investigated. Their deaths may also not be known by their families, who are forced to navigate daily life with the pain of not knowing whether their loved one is alive or dead.