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Migrants, the Mediterranean is the most frequented route. And the deadliest one

The Mediterranean is the sea route most frequented by migrants who want to build a new life for themselves. And, unfortunately, it is also the deadliest one.

The number of migrants who tried to abandon their birthplace by boat in 2014 was the highest ever. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), since January, 348 thousand people have tried to undertake sea routes worldwide.

 

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Europe. It has seen the largest number of sea arrivals, mostly to Italy and Malta, for their proximity to some countries that are facing conflicts including Lybia, Ukraine, Syria and Iraq. 207 thousand people have crossed the Mediterranean Sea this year, almost three times the previous record of 2011, year of the Arab spring, in which sea crossings were 70 thousands. And even the number of deaths reported in this area has increased (3,419 deaths of 4,272 worldwide), making the Mediterranean the world deadliest route.

 

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The rest of the world. The other sea routes undertaken by refugees to reach safer places are three. In the Horn of Africa region (Ethiopia and Somalia) 82,680 people crossed the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea in the attempt to reach Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the countries of the Persian Gulf. In Southeast Asia 54 thousand people left Bangladesh and Burma (Myanmar) heading to Thailand, Malaysia or Indonesia. Finally, in the Caribbean, an estimated 4,475 people chose to cross the sea to find asylum in one of the American continent’s countries.

 

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Guterres’s words. High Commissioner Antonio Guterres said that governments made a “mistake” while trying to keep migrants away instead of guaranteeing them the right of asylum: “This is a mistake, and precisely the wrong reaction for an era in which record numbers of people are fleeing wars. Security and immigration management are concerns for any country, but policies must be designed in a way that human lives do not end up becoming collateral damage”.

 

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In search of a dialogue. On Wednesday 10th and Thursday 11th December the seventh High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges, 2014, an annual informal gathering to discuss politics, will be held in Geneva, Switzerland. This year’s theme is the protection of the sea. The dialogue will bring together countries, non-governmental organisations and international organisations along with experts and researchers from all over the world.

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