Thousands died attempting to reach Europe last year
According to the UN refugee agency, more than 3,000 people died or went missing while attempting to reach Europe by sea last year.
According to data released Friday by the UN refugee agency, almost 3,000 migrants perished or went missing while attempting to reach Europe via the Mediterranean or Atlantic water routes last year.
The total is nearly double that of the previous year, when 1,776 asylum seekers, refugees, and others died or went missing while attempting to cross the central and western Mediterranean routes or the northwest African maritime route to the Canary Islands, according to the organization.
Over 475 individuals have died or gone missing at sea since the beginning of 2022.
UNHCR's Shabia Mantoo called the increase at a press conference in Geneva Friday "Alarming," adding that "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."
UNHCR warned that "continued political instability and conflicts, deteriorating socioeconomic conditions as well as the impact of climate change may increase displacement and dangerous onward movement."
The agency called on European and African countries to "help provide meaningful alternatives to these dangerous journeys and prevent people from becoming victims of traffickers."
The number of migrants trying to enter the European Union without a visa or authorization in the first quarter of 2022 has spiked to 2016 highs, without accounting for Ukrainian refugees, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex said on Tuesday.
Frontex estimated that some 40,000 migrants have entered the bloc between January and March, which makes for a 57% year-on-year increase.
Some European nations are under fire for their policies regarding migrants and refugees from the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
Under a controversial deal announced this month, Britain will send migrants and asylum seekers who cross the Channel thousands of miles away to Rwanda, as the government tries to reduce the record number of people making the perilous journey.
Earlier this month, the agency stated that "People fleeing war, conflict, and persecution deserve compassion and empathy. They should not be traded like commodities and transferred abroad for processing."
Fabrice Leggeri, the chief of Frontex, resigned on Friday following allegations that the border agency abused migrants and asylum seekers, including by participating in unlawful pushbacks — the driving of refugees away from a border before they can claim asylum.