Migrant deaths in Mediterranean double in early 2024, says UN

Nearly 100 migrants have died or disappeared in the central and eastern Mediterranean since the beginning of 2024, more than double the toll recorded last year during the same period
Handout image obtained by Reuters, October 12, 2023 shows a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) rescue boat near a rubber boat carrying migrants from the Middle East and Africa, in Mediterranean Sea, June 24, 2023.
Handout image obtained by Reuters, October 12, 2023 shows a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) rescue boat near a rubber boat carrying migrants from the Middle East and Africa, in Mediterranean Sea, June 24, 2023. MSF/Skye McKee/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

GENEVA (Reuters) - Nearly 100 migrants have died or disappeared in the central and eastern Mediterranean since the beginning of 2024, more than double the toll recorded last year during the same period, the U.N. migration agency said on Monday.

The comment was made during an Italy-Africa Conference in Rome attended by more than two dozen African leaders and European Union officials to discuss economic ties and ways to curb undocumented migration to Europe.

"The latest record of deaths and disappearances is a stark reminder that a comprehensive approach that includes safe and regular pathways... is the only solution that will benefit migrants and states alike," said Amy Pope, director general of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

IOM's Missing Migrants Project found that 3,041 migrants were dead or went missing in the Mediterranean last year - a significant increase over the 2,411 toll in 2022.

Earlier this month, some 40 Tunisian migrants went missing after setting off in a boat toward the Italian coast.

Tunisia has replaced Libya as a main departure point for Mediterranean crossings for people fleeing poverty and conflict.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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