Gran Canaria, Spain, Apr 5 (EFE).- The perilous Atlantic crossing between continental Africa and Spain’s Canary Islands was the deadliest in the world last year, accounting for one fifth of the nearly 6,000 recorded deaths and disappearances on migratory transit routes, according to data from the International Organization for Migration.
The IOM recorded a total of 5,795 migrant deaths in 2021, of which 2,048 were reported on the western, central and eastern routes traversing the Mediterranean, 1,488 in Africa, 1,248 in the Americas, 779 in East Asia, 133 in Europe and 99 in West Asia.
The growing number of people making the hazardous journey across the Atlantic Ocean from Africa to the Canary Islands, often in vessels ill-equipped for the open ocean including wooden boats or rubber dinghies, has alarmed the IOM.
In 2017, there was one recorded death on the maritime route. But that annual figure has since grown to 43 in 2018; 202 in 2019; 877 in 2020 and 1,109 in 2021, officials from the IOM’s Missing Migrants Project told Efe.
The data compiled by the organization likely do not reflect the real toll on the Atlantic route, given the reports are based on the number of bodies pulled from the ocean and testimonies from survivors.
The IOM acknowledges that many migrant boats sink and disappear without the knowledge of authorities.
Caminando Fronteras, a Spanish NGO, estimates that 4,016 people died on the Atlantic route to Spain in 2021, based on statements from victims’ relatives.
The European Union’s border and coast guard service Frontex said 194,948 people entered EU territory irregularly in 2021: 22,504 via the Atlantic to the Canary Islands, 18,245 across the western Mediterranean, 65,362 via the central Mediterranean, 20,373 via the eastern Mediterranean, 60,540 through the Balkans and 7,915 via Eastern Europe.
A total of 11.5% of irregular migrants entering EU territory landed in the Canary Islands, according to those statistics. EFE