Nearly 7,500 Migrants and Refugees Died in 2016
The United Nations migration agency said an estimated 7,495 migrants and refugees died in 2016, a significant increase on the death toll of previous years.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported 5,267 deaths in 2014 and 5,740 in 2015. The data, showing 18,502 deaths over three years, were described as “simply shocking” by IOM director-general William Lacy Swing, noting this equated to about 20 deaths a day.
IOM officials attributed the surge in the figures last year to better research methods in counting the dead, while certain routes have become more deadly. For example, an estimated 5,079 people died in the Mediterranean last year, compared with 3,777 in 2015.
It has become easier for the IOM to track deaths in some parts of the world thanks to migrants’ reliance on phones and social media to send their families updates on their journeys. IOM press officer Joel Millman said this was particularly the case in Latin America, where 700 migrant and refugee deaths were recorded in 2016, compared with 488 the previous year.
However, he said that many other regions may be much deadlier for migrants than IOM data show, particularly the passage used by Iraqis, Pakistanis and Afghans through Iran and Turkey and the route from equatorial Africa to South Africa.
“We don’t believe we are anywhere near counting all of the victims,” Swing warned. “We are past the time for counting. We must act to make migration legal, safe and secure for all.”
More Refugees in Lebanon Face Food Insecurity
A U.N. survey found that more than one-third of Syrian refugees in Lebanon were suffering moderate to severe food insecurity in 2016, an increase of 12 percent on the previous year.
The number of Syrian refugee households living below the poverty line was static at 71 percent, according to the annual survey by the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, its children’s fund and the World Food Programme. They surveyed 4,500 Syrian refugee households in Lebanon in May and June 2016.
“Syrian refugees in Lebanon are barely coping,” said the UNHCR’s Amin Awad. “They remain extremely vulnerable and dependent on aid from the international community.”
The survey found that aid had prevented a dramatic deterioration in the state of refugees’ health, education, shelter, water, hygiene, solid waste and energy last year.
Dozens Hurt in German Asylum Facility Fire
A fire broke out at a facility housing asylum seekers in Germany, leaving two dozen people injured, including two firefighters.
The fire gutted the home for 500 asylum seekers near Paderborn, the Associated Press reported. Most of the wounded were treated for smoke inhalation at the scene, but several were hospitalized with more serious injuries. The cause of the fire is not yet known.
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