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Migrant Deaths In The Mediterranean Account For Three-Quarters Of The World Total This Year

02/09/2015 02:30 | Updated 02 September 2015

The rising number of migrants who die on their journeys across the Mediterranean is laid bare in five charts, which reveal that deaths in the region make up nearly three-quarters of all the world's migrant fatalities this year.

Migrant deaths in the Mediterranean this year are commonly cited as in the "hundreds", but infographics from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM)'s 'Missing Migrants' project show the figure has already topped 2,000.

An estimated 2,643 people, mostly from the Middle East and North Africa, have died trying to cross the sea in this year - making up 73% of the global total of 3,620 migrant deaths.

The number of people who have lost their lives in the Mediterranean is six times greater than on the second most dangerous route, the Bay of Bengal, according to Missing Migrants.

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The International Organisation for Migration, which collated the research, was formed after World War II. It is an inter-governmental body funded by 157 different countries.

Daniel Szabo, who runs the Missing Migrants project, told The Huffington Post UK it had collected the data for journalists, research bodies and families of those missing.

Such figures are essential for reminding people about the tragedies happening daily, which some are tempted to "just shut out", he claimed.

Information on the number of migrants who die trying to move to a new country is "seriously lacking" he said, partially because some regions are better at collecting data than others, depending what operations they have on the ground.

"We thought we needed to step in and fill that gap as best we can. Certainly we need to keep the focus on the fact that this is happening now, this is happening yesterday and right now. And so that is extremely important for us."

"I think the research shows shockingly that it is happening. This happened last year too, and there is that risk that people just don't want to know or just shut it out."

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People start journey in the dark on a dinghy from to Turkey to the Greek island of Kos in August

Another chart from Missing Migrants shows that Greece and Italy have received the highest number of arrivals in the area, according the IOM, with 234,778 people reaching Greece and 114,276 reaching Italy.

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A further chart shows the steep rise in deaths over the year - August has seen the highest numbers of people dying in the sea so far this year, though the its figure is only slightly above the number for August 2014.

Over 400 more people have died on Mediterranean migration routes so far this year compared to the same period in 2014.

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The vast majority of migrants - for the countries where there are numbers available - are from Syria. More than 88,000 people have made the often-treacherous journey from the war-torn country to Greece this year, after four years of brutal civil war. Many migrants also come from Eritrea, Afghanistan and Algeria.

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Szabo said he hears regular stories of desperation: "They are aware of the risks on their lives, I see those stories constantly. They are willing to take that risk with hopes of a better future. I think that's something they think is here in Europe, for certain."

Most of those making the journey could indeed have a better life in Europe, he thinks: "Certainly there is scope for that."

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Politicians need to pay more attention to the loss of life, Szabo argued. He picked out the evolution of operation Triton, the EU's migration surveillance programme that has incorporated more search-and-rescue activities since it was launched last year, as an example of migrant deaths having an effect on policy. "That's a clear example of keeping the pressure on," he said, "showing what's happening and that it can quickly change."

He echoed calls from Germany and France for a more unified approach from European countries to address the unprecedented levels of migration.

"I think there needs to be a collective approach of politicians getting together and EU members states coordinating their activities, rather than separate responses that don't seem to address the problem.

"I think it's a long-term problem -I think we need to have managed migration - and it's not an easy one, there's a lot of aspects to it."

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