A small boat carrying migrants off the southeast coast of Spain, north of the Moroccan-Algerian border, in the Mediterranean Sea | Photo: ARCHIVE/EPA
A small boat carrying migrants off the southeast coast of Spain, north of the Moroccan-Algerian border, in the Mediterranean Sea | Photo: ARCHIVE/EPA

500 migrants have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean Sea this year as of May 20, according to figures released by UNHCR. Meanwhile, 18,408 migrants arrived in Europe. The risk of death has grown exponentially for those who undertake a journey across the Mediterranean Sea to reach Italy.

Between January and April 2019, a total of 406 migrants died or went missing at sea, the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR said. 255 people died or went missing on the Central Mediterranean route to Italy, 137 in the Western Mediterranean (on their way to Spain), and 14 on the Eastern Mediterranean (on their way to Greece or Cyprus).

In the same period last year, 612 migrants died or went missing at sea, 367 on their way to Italy. 

While the total number of deaths in the Mediterranean has decreased in 2019, the death rate has increased dramatically. The Africa-Italy route in particular has become much more dangerous in 2019. 

Death rate on Africa-Italy route: Tenfold increase

For every 1,000 persons headed to Italy, an average of 327 migrants died or went missing in the first four months of 2019 compared to 39 during the first four months of 2018 - that's a nearly tenfold increase.  

Migrant fatalities for those trying to reach Spain and Greece were decidedly lower, at 20 victims for every 1,000 arrivals and two victims for every 1,000 arrivals, respectively.

 

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