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    More than 29,000 migrants to Europe died since 2014

    ROME (AP) – More than 29,000 migrants have died trying to reach Europe since 2014, with 5,000 deaths in the last two years, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a report on Tuesday.

    The United Nations (UN) agency’s Missing Migrants Project spoke of “increasing numbers of deaths seen on routes across the Mediterranean, on land borders to Europe and within the continent”.

    According to its report, the deadliest migration route continues to be the Central Mediterranean, where 2,836 people have died since January 2021 attempting to reach Italy or Malta, mainly from Libya and Tunisia.

    The latest known casualties were newborn twins who died on a boat that had left Tunisia carrying 60 people. The Italian coast guard picked up the survivors on Tuesday and took them to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

    Rescue operations on that route by Italian military vessels and charity-operated boats off Italy’s southern coasts have intensified in recent weeks, with humanitarian ships often waiting days before obtaining permission to dock in Italian ports.

    Bodies are disembarked on the island of Lampedusa, Italy. PHOTO: AP

    Hundreds of rescued people have been temporarily sheltered at an overcrowded reception centre on Lampedusa, where new arrivals are registered daily.

    According to the IOM report, the second-deadliest path was the Atlantic route from West Africa to Spain’s Canary Islands, where more than 1,500 deaths were recorded since 2021.

    Researchers said their tally was likely an undercount as it didn’t include boats that vanish at sea without witnesses.

    Rising numbers of deaths also were observed in other areas that border Europe, as well as in Greece, the Western Balkans and the English Channel, according to the report.

    The dead whose nationalities are known were mainly from Africa and the Middle East. But for more than 17,000, the country of origin is unknown. Many of the deaths “could have been prevented by prompt and effective assistance to migrants in distress”, the Missing Migrants Project said.

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