death on the borders of the European Union

The Missing Migrants project of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) identifies, since 2014, the “persons who died during the process of migrating to an international destination, regardless of their legal status”. The fatal accidents that mourn migratory journeys, often clandestine, are difficult to document. The data of the United Nations agency are therefore “underrated”.

They are however colossal. According to the IOM, 51,388 people have died since 2014 in an attempt to reach a country other than their own. It is by trying to reach Europe, via the Mediterranean, that migrants pay the highest price. This crossing has claimed the lives of at least 25,271 women, men and children, or nearly one in two fatalities since 2014.

While the European Union (EU) closes its borders by tightening controls, or erecting ever higher barbed wire barriers, those fleeing war, persecution or poverty take ever more dangerous paths. The agreements concluded with countries of departure or of transit, such as Turkey, Morocco or Libya, are a further mechanism put in place by Brussels: by entrusting these states with the responsibility of preventing departures, in exchange for financial aid or political support, the EU “buys” a decrease in irregular arrivals on its territory. But only for a moment. When a new migratory route is created, or the pressure exerted on border guards and coast guards in the Schengen area results in violence – sometimes fatal – against those who try to enter.

The channel: Since the revision of the Sangatte protocol (2000), the management of migratory flows towards the United Kingdom has been relocated to France. Faced with tightened controls, migrants are increasing their crossings of the Channel: they were more than 40,000 in 2022. On November 24, 2021, at least 27 people died off Calais. On November 14, London and Paris signed a new agreement to combat this phenomenon small boats.

Ceuta and Melilla: In May 2021, in retaliation for the hospitalization in Spain of the leader of the movement fighting for the independence of Western Sahara (Polisario Front), Morocco allowed the passage of 8,000 migrants to the Ceuta enclave. In April, Rabat and Madrid sign an agreement to tighten migration controls. On June 24, while a thousand people tried to enter the enclave of Melilla, at least 37 died under the blows of the Moroccan police.

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