This is the second straight year that deaths have fallen in the Mediterranean Sea | Photo: Picture-alliance/AP Photo
This is the second straight year that deaths have fallen in the Mediterranean Sea | Photo: Picture-alliance/AP Photo

While the number of deaths has fallen last year, the Mediterranean Sea remains the most deadly sea route in the world. There are still thousands who are unaccounted for.

The number of dead and missing migrants in the Mediterranean Sea went down in 2018. There were 2,262 dead and missing migrants in the body of water last year, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

That is a steep drop from the previous two years. There were 3,139 who died or went missing in 2017, and 5,096 in 2016, according to UNHCR data. Arrivals via the Mediterranean Sea have steadily gone down since 2015. The UNHCR estimates that following a peak of more than 1 million sea arrivals in 2015, there were 362,753 in 2016, 172,301 in 2017 and 114,941 in 2018.

Though the number of deaths has gone down, the rate of deaths per arrivals has increased. Celine Schmitt, spokesperson of UNHCR said that the Mediterranean is the "world's deadliest sea route" for migrants and refugees.

New arrivals in Europe

Migrant routes have shifted from the central Mediterranean route to the western route. Last year, most of the migrants who traveled by sea arrived in Spain, which saw a record high number of arrivals. In previous years it was Greece and Italy that saw the most arrivals. 

55,756 migrants arrived in Spain from northern Africa in 2018. That's compared to 22,103 the year before.

Italy saw 23,371 arrivals last year - around a fifth of the 2017 number of 119,369. The sharp drop can be accounted to the country's restrictive measures regarding asylum policy and its cooperation with the Libyan coast guard to deter migrants arriving on Italian shores.

Most migrants who crossed the Mediterranean came from Guinea (13,068) followed by Morocco (12,745) and Mali (10,347). Syrian and Afghan nationals were the fourth and fifth largest groups respectively (7,621 and 7,333), AFP reports.

 

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