By Akanimo Sampson – 

 

2019 was the deadliest year on record for migrants in the Americas. According to data from the Missing Migrants Project (MMP) collected at the International Organisation for Migration’s (IOM) Data Analysis Centre in Berlin, no less than 810 people died crossing deserts, rivers and remote terrain on different migration routes across the Americas.

The records, compiled from official government data as well as civil society groups and media reports, indicate that this is the highest number of deaths documented in this region since IOM began keeping records six years ago.

More than 3,800 deaths have been recorded in the Americas since 2014.

Director of IOM’s Data Analysis Centre, Frank Laczko, said “these numbers are a sad reminder that the lack of options for safe and legal mobility pushes people onto more invisible and riskier paths, putting them at greater danger.”

“The loss of lives should never be normalized nor tolerated as an assumed risk of irregular migration.”

The United States–Mexico border region is one of the most visible sites of migrant deaths in the Americas. MMP has recorded a growing number of deaths on this border every year since 2014, documenting a total of 2,403 over six years, including 497 in 2019.

Most deaths were recorded in the waters of the Río Bravo/Rio Grande, which runs between Texas and the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo León and Coahuila, where 109 people lost their lives in 2019, a 26 per cent increase from the 86 deaths recorded in 2018.

Many people also attempt the crossing through the remote rugged terrain of the vast Arizona deserts. At least 171 people lost their lives in this part of the border in 2019, a 29 per cent increase over the 133 deaths documented in this area in 2018.

Missing Migrants Project data are compiled by IOM staff based at its Global Migration Data Analysis Centre but come from a variety of sources, some of which are unofficial.

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