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Many deaths still recorded even as fewer people cross mediterranean

Shipwrecks of Migrant boats off Greece   -  
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AFP -

Greece

The back-to-back shipwrecks of migrant boats off Greece that left at least 22 people dead this week has once again put the spotlight on the dangers of the Mediterranean migration route to Europe.

The Greek shipwrecks came just days after Italy commemorated the ninth anniversary of one of the deadliest Mediterranean shipwrecks in recent memory, the Oct. 3, 2013 capsizing of a migrant ship off Lampedusa, Sicily in which 368 people died.

U.N. refugee officials note that overall numbers of migrants seeking to come to Europe by land or sea has decreased over the years, to an average of around 120,000 annually.

The migration officials call that a relatively "manageable" number compared to the 7.4 million Ukrainians who fled their homeland this year to escape Russia's invasion.

Mediterranean routes are becoming more deadly despite the decrease in the number of arrivals. The back-to-back shipwrecks of migrant boats off Greece that left at least 22 people dead this week has once again put the spotlight on the dangers of the Mediterranean migration route to Europe.

Shabia Mantoo, a spokesperson of UNHCR, explained that "in the absence of secure pathways for migrants and refugees, people are becoming increasingly desperate and they will continue to be exploited by unscrupulous smugglers and unfortunately and will be risking their lives in these journey."

Shabia commented on the recent deadly shipwrecks in Greek islands of Kythira and Lesbos, maintaining that despite the number of arrivals of migrants throughout the Mediterranean routes decreasing, the lack of safe corridors and the permanent rescue operations is making those journeys more perilous.

"We are seeing the death toll climbing. In 2021, despite 120,000 arrivals, we saw about more than 3200 people that were reported dead or missing on those routes and in these journeys. So they are deadlier," Mantoo said.

But she emphasised that these are "manageable" number compared to the 7.4 million Ukrainians fleeing the war.

"It shows that when there is political commitment and action and a concerted responsibility sharing approach, that these are very manageable movements in numbers", Mantoo said.