“By September 24, over 2,500 people were accounted as dead or missing in 2023 alone,” Ruven Menikdiwela, director of the UNHCR New York office, told the U.N. Security Council.
That number marked a large increase over the 1,680 dead or missing migrants in the same period in 2022.
“Lives are also lost on land, away from public attention,” she added.
The land journey from sub-Saharan African countries, where many of the migrants hail from, to departure points on the Tunisian and Libyan coasts “remains one of the world’s most dangerous,” Menikdiwela said.
The migrants and refugees “risk death and gross human rights violations at every step,” said Menikdiwela.
In total, some 186,000 people arrived by sea in southern Europe from January to Sept. 24, landing in Italy, Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Malta.
The majority, over 130,000 people, arrived in Italy, marking an increase of 83% compared to the same period in 2022.
As for departure points, between January and August of this year it is estimated that more than 102,000 refugees and migrants tried to cross the Mediterranean from Tunisia and 45,000 from Libya.
An estimated 31,000 people were rescued at sea or intercepted and disembarked in Tunisia, and 10,600 in Libya, Menikdiwela said.