The International Organisation for Migrants’ (IOM) Missing Migrants Project (MMP), has recorded 2,300 migrant deaths worldwide from January to 31 May this year, with the Mediterranean region accounting for the largest proportion of deaths.
Out of the 2,300 deaths, the Mediterranean region accounted for 1,650 of such deaths which are about two thirds of the global total deaths.
Report by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has also indicated that at least 44 migrants were found dead from January to May 31 in northern Niger.
In a three-day workshop organised by (IOM), it was revealed that, Nigerien officials noted “babies and women” were among the 44 migrants found dead mostly from Ghana and Nigeria.
Guiseppe Loprete, IOM Chief of Mission in Niger, said this latest tragedy was a grim reminder that probably more migrants died in the Sahara desert than in the Mediterranean, but due to the inhospitable nature of the region, it was virtually impossible to know the exact number.
The report indicated that these migrants “died of thirst in northern Niger when their vehicle broke down during an attempt to reach Europe via Libya”.
These deaths were confirmed by the Mayor of Agadez, a remote town on the edge of the Sahara, it stated.
There were however, six survivors, a woman from Nigeria and five men from Ghana who were taken to the IOM transit centre in Dirkou.
Mr Loprete said that “the survivors will later be transported to IOM’s transit centre in Agadez where they will receive medical, psychological and protection assistance. Once they are ready, we will help them with assisted voluntary return to their countries of origin.”
He added that “the migrants are often lied to and cheated on their way to Europe” and most often than not “smugglers run away with their money and leave them stranded in middle of nowhere and in a country they do not know.
“While in the desert, they are often abandoned by the drivers so they remain stranded for days at a time under the desert sun with no food, water or shade,” he said.
He noted that most West African migrants leave their countries of origin due to poor economic opportunities as they dream for a better future in Europe. “Tragically many never get the chance to live that dream,”
The Niger to Libya route is the one most sub-Saharan African migrants take when trying to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea.
“Each week, thousands of migrants are crammed into pick-up trucks for the days-long ride, often with only enough room for a few litres of water attempting to cross the Sahara desert, one of most inhospitable and deadliest places on earth,” he said.
Local authorities were still looking for other survivors and IOM staffs are currently working to identify bodies and bury the deceased.