Record 10,000 refugees will die this year – IOM analyst

© Charles Platiau
Migrant deaths are due to set a new record this year, with 10,000 deaths projected, according to forecasts by the International Organization for Migration. This comes amid realizations that a concerted global response to the issue is required.

The statistics are likely to cast a dark shadow over the two upcoming summits in New York this week. On Monday, the UN General Assembly will discuss the ongoing refugee crisis caused by worldwide fighting. On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama will invite world leaders to discuss raising the bar on refugee spending and rolling out new policies.

Fighting and various crises displaced some 65 million people in 2015. Of those, 21.3 million were forced to flee their countries, making them international refugees.

Julia Black, a data analyst from the IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, speaking to the Guardian, confirmed the highest mortality and migration expectations.

“Last year we had more than 5,000 deaths across the world. This year we’re already at more than 4,000, but outside of the Mediterranean and Europe the information is so poor we really think it’s a gross underestimate,” she said, adding that experts expect the figure to be twice that, and “greater than anything we’ve seen.”

Fighting has led to patterns and methods of migration that are often fraught with deadly risks. People escaping to the safety of Europe in worn-out boats added largely to the statistic. So far, 3,212 have died this year from drowning.

Thousands are rescued every week in the Channel of Sicily, the IOM writes. The total number of arrivals by sea is expected to top 300,000 over the September 16-18 weekend. This is less than the 469,869 at the same time last year, but has no bearing on the frequency of deaths, with an increase of 15 percent over 2015.

The IOM added that not all areas are equally good at record-keeping, using Latin America as another example. This year, an estimated 400 people died during migration there, but the number is feared to be triple that.

The UN’s plan so far has been criticized by activists for insufficient details on how to actually go about resolving the issue. This is coupled with subpar performance on existing plans, such as that of settling refugees throughout the EU from gateway countries like Greece and Italy. Drafted last year, the plan has only managed 5,000 relocations, despite the initial target of 160,000.

The majority are unable to return home due to threats to their lives, but that is not stopping everyone: multiple reports have been written on the deplorable conditions in some refugee camps, particularly in Greece, which has been marked by frequent chaos, lack of clarity regarding movement, and flagrant human rights violations. Amnesty International sees this as one of the main driving forces behind people choosing to return to war-torn Syria, which has topped 470,000 deaths since the war started in 2011.