IOM: Record number of migrants died in 2023

The United Nations migration agency says at least 8,542 people are believed to have died or disappeared while migrating last year. That is the highest figure reported since the agency started keeping records a decade ago.

The International Organization for Migration, or the IOM, released a report on Tuesday. It said that the number had increased by 20 percent from 2022, when 7,141 people were reported dead or missing.

The report says drowning is the most prevalent cause of death. It notes that a number of migrants have drowned as a result of accidents that occurred as they were traveling by boat from North Africa to Italy across the Mediterranean Sea.

The IOM is calling on countries to develop a framework that will enable safe pathways for migrants to be created. It is also urging nations to strengthen search and rescue operations at sea.

On the other hand, the number of asylum seekers has been growing at an alarming rate in Europe in recent years. European countries received more than one million asylum applications last year. That is close to the levels seen in 2015, when the region dealt with a refugee crisis.