Within days, two deadly tragedies involved people trying to cross international borders.
On Friday (24/6) at least 23 people died when a huge crowd tried to cross a barrier on the Moroccan border to reach the Spanish enclave of Melilla in North Africa.
Three days later, in the United States, police in the city of San Antonio discovered the bodies of at least 46 people in an abandoned truck.
The number of crossings on the world’s main migration routes appears to be rising following the effects of the covid-19 pandemic, which has led several countries to impose strict access restrictions.
Experts warn that this could lead to an increase in the number of deaths.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM), a UN agency, estimates that since 2014, nearly 50,000 migrants have died or disappeared in trying to reach destinations such as the United States or the European Union.
The agency believes that the actual number of dead and missing may be even higher.
But what are the most dangerous routes in the world for migrants? And why ?
According to the IOM, this is the deadliest route in the world for migrants. It is estimated that more than 19,500 people have died in the attempt to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe since 2014.
Attempts to cross are usually carried out in makeshift and overcrowded vessels, such as dinghies, making the voyage dangerous and potentially deadly.
The boats are often piloted by criminal gangs and human traffickers.
In Tunisia, which along with Libya is the main starting point for migrants trying to reach Europe along the central Mediterranean route, there is even a cemetery reserved for people drowning at sea.
“Seeing these graves here makes me very sad,” Vicky, a Nigerian migrant hoping to come from Tunisia, told the AFP news agency when he visited the cemetery.
“When I see this [les tombes]I’m not sure I want to make the crossing anymore, “he adds.
Agencies such as the IOM fear that other migrants will not be deterred.
“Departures of migrants in the central Mediterranean continue. The biggest concern is the still high number of deaths at this most dangerous maritime crossing in the world. It continues to claim victims in the absence of concrete action by the states.” said IOM spokeswoman Safa Msehli.
Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, says nearly 300,000 people have been rescued in an attempt to use this route since 2015.
African inland roads
For many African migrants, the dream of reaching Europe begins with a journey across the continent itself, which often involves a long crossing of the Sahara desert towards countries in North Africa.
Harsh environmental conditions pose a major threat: The IOM estimates that crossing the Sahara has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 5,400 people between 2014 and 2022.
“In the desert, people are seen dying. Some are dying because they have no more energy. Others are dying of thirst,” Abdullah Ibrahim, a migrant, told AFP. about his crossing experience.
Another major threat to migrants is the numerous human trafficking gangs operating in the region.
“Violence at the hands of smugglers, traffickers and border officials in the region is also responsible for a significant proportion of the deaths on the migration routes recorded in the Sahara Desert,” the IOM stressed in its latest report on the case.
Crossing the border between the United States and Mexico
Although migration routes in America are not just about reaching the United States, this is the ultimate goal for most people looking for a new home in the region.
The U.S.-Mexico border poses a major challenge: The region is known for its inhospitable geography, including its desert regions, and migrants often try to cross into the United States by crossing the dangerous Rio Grande River, which runs along part of the border.
Drowning is a leading cause of death on this route, which IOM says has cost more than 3,000 lives since 2014.
Those who try to avoid natural hazards by hiding in vehicles expose themselves to various hazards, such as those that led to the deaths in San Antonio.
“Recently, other incidents have resulted in significant loss of life on the migration routes to the United States,” said IOM spokeswoman Safa Msehli.
In December 2021, 56 migrants died in Chiapas, Mexico, after the truck they were driving crashed.
“The IOM remains concerned about the dangers of migration from Latin America to the United States,” Msehli added.
Roads in Asia
According to the IOM, more than four out of ten migrants worldwide by 2020 were born in Asia, and the continent has several major migration routes.
According to the UN agency, nearly 5,000 people have died or disappeared in Asia over the past eight years.
Most of these deaths involve Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants using the sea lanes that cross the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea to seek safety in neighboring countries or even to try to reach Europe.
The difficulties they encounter during crossings can be extreme.
“We were hungry. There was nothing to drink, no drinking water. There was no food, no rice, we could not eat. That’s how it was at sea for a month,” 37-year-old Muhammad Ilyas told AFP news agency. Rohingya refugee, after being rescued by the Indian Navy after a collapse of the boat he was sailing on.
As on other routes, these migrants are also often victims of the exploitation of gangs of human traffickers.
Another problematic route is the border between Iran and Turkey, which has experienced an unprecedented influx of Afghan migrants since the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan last August.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than two million Afghans are registered as refugees in Iran and neighboring countries.