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At Least 1,500 People Have Died Crossing Mediterranean in 2018 Alone

For the fifth year in a row, more than 1,500 men, women and children have died attempting to make the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean, the United Nations International Organization for Migration has reported.

The IOM said 1,504 people have died this year, with more than half of those deaths occurring since June 1. 

"Deaths in the Western Mediterranean in recent months have reached devastating levels, with 304 fatalities recorded by the Missing Migrants Project between January and 25 July 2018, far outpacing the 124 recorded in the equivalent period of 2017–and the 224 recorded as drowned or missing during all of last year," IOM said in a statement posted online. 

RTX2X8X9 (1) A lifeguard pulls a migrant child into a rescue craft from an overcrowded raft as lifeguards from Spanish Proactiva Open Arms rescue all 112 on onboard as the raft drifts out of control in the Mediterranean, near Libya. About 1,500 migrants are believed to have died crossing the Mediterranean in 2018 alone, according to a U.N. report. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

On the deadliest route, between Libya and Italy, as many as one in 19 people who tried to make the crossing did not survive, according to IOM. 

The IOM said that 55,001 migrants and refugees had survived the journey across the Mediterranean to Europe. The total is nearly half that of the number recorded around this time last year, which was 111,753. In 2016, the numbers were even higher, with 250,000 people arriving in Europe by sea. 

download (1) International Organization of Migration

The U.N. migration agency said the majority of migrants appear to be traveling to Spain, with the country receiving as many as 20,992 arrivals from January 1 to July 25 of this year. 

On July 26, more than 600 African migrants tore through a fortified border fence separating the Spanish North African enclave of Ceuta from Morocco, using circular saw and shears to cut their way through wire. 

Italy trails Spain as the second most popular destination, with as many as 18,130 people risking their lives to make the journey so far this year.

Of the 1,500 people who died trying to make the harrowing trip across the Mediterranean, 1,111 had hoped to make it to Italy.

“What we can say is that the first indications that we are getting from the Spanish authorities is that it is the West African migrants that were most prominent crossing into Libya in the past couple of years who seem to be choosing Spain as their route now,” IOM spokesperson Joel Millman told a Geneva news briefing, according to Reuters. 

Millman, however, noted that it was important to recognize that "despite incredibly low numbers arriving to Italy, the per capita death or the rate of death per 1,000 people may be at its highest point since the emergency began."

In addition to Spain and Italy, many migrants who risk crossing the Mediterranean are heading toward Greece, with 15,528 people arriving in the country in 2018.

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