The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Friday that as of Dec. 17, the IOM had recorded 3,174 deaths on migratory routes worldwide this year, compared to 5,327 in 2019.
In a statement issued to mark International Migrants Day, which falls on Dec. 18 every year, IOM said that despite COVID-19 and the related travel restrictions, tens of thousands of people continued to leave their homes and embark on dangerous journeys across deserts and seas.
While the overall number of people known to have lost their lives in 2020 was lower than previous years, some routes had seen an increase in fatalities, the IOM said.
It added that at least 593 people had died en route to Spain’s Canary Islands thus far, compared to 210 recorded in 2019 and 45 in 2018.
“The decrease in recorded migrant deaths was not necessarily an indication that the number of lives lost had truly dropped in 2020 as COVID-19 also challenged the ability both to collate data on deaths during migration and monitor specific routes,” Paul Dillon, the spokesperson for IOM, told a press briefing here on Friday.
The theme of this year’s International Migrants Day is “Reimagining Human Mobility.” According to the latest UN figures, the number of migrants globally reached an estimated 272 million in 2019, 51 million more than in 2010.