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Land routes through Africa are twice as dangerous for migrants and refugees

African migrants stand at the Libyan border with Tunisia, Thursday, August 4, 2023   -  
Copyright © africanews
Rick Bowmer/AP2008


A recent report published by the U.N. refugee and migration agencies and the Mixed Migration Centre reveals that more migrants and refugees in Africa are moving northward towards the Mediterranean and Europe, facing dangerous routes in the Sahara where criminal groups subject them to various forms of abuse.

Vincent Cochetel, the UNHCR Special Envoy for the Western & Central Mediterranean Situation revealed that “many people tell us that they are aware of someone who has died on the way, normally more on the land routes than on the sea routes. The risk of sexual, gender-based violence has also increased to 15%. It was 12.5% in the previous report.

The report, titled “On this Journey, No One Cares If You Live Or Die,” highlights that land crossings in Africa are twice as deadly as sea routes across the Mediterranean, known as the deadliest maritime path for migrants globally.

"The risk of kidnapping seems to be a new one. It used to be mentioned by 2% of the respondents four years ago. Now it is mentioned by 18% of the respondents. Almost one out of five claim that the journey involved that risk of kidnapping, " Cochetel concluded.

Despite the rise in anti-immigrant sentiment among politicians in Europe and elsewhere, factors such as conflict, economic challenges, repression, and the effects of climate change in many developing countries continue to drive the flow of migrants across borders, exposing them to risks of physical harm and death.

The increase in journeys towards the Mediterranean is attributed to new conflicts and instability in countries like Mali, Burkina Faso, and Sudan. However, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Guinea are the top countries of origin for migrants.

According to Laurence Hart, the IOM Director, Coordination Office for the Mediterranean, “oftentimes smugglers and traffickers have a very capable way of communicating and enticing migrants and showing them how things can be easy, the price can be low but then it turns out to be a nightmare...”

Despite the risks highlighted by the report more than 72,000 migrants and refugees crossed over in the first half of the year.

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