The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says 521 migrants, mainly from Nigeria and other West African countries, died while crossing the Mediterranean sea and desert to Italy between January and first of week of March.
The organisation in a statement on Friday said it would host an online press conference on March 15 to commence aggressive awareness campaign to discourage people from embarking on such journey.
The organization, which expressed worry over dangerous adventures by migrants from the region, explained that the figure was 50 more compared to the same period in 2016.
IOM added that other countries involved in the dangerous journey include Ivory Coast, Guinea, Senegal and Gambia.
“Some 521 migrants died or disappeared in the Mediterranean from the start of the year up to March 5, 2017, compared to 471 in the same period last year.
” Some 19,348 migrants and refugees have arrived by sea in Europe, more than 80 per cent of them in Italy (15,760) and the rest in Spain (1,000) and Greece (2,624).
“In the first 65 days of 2016, the figures were much higher with 138,524 arrivals, 129,423 of them in Greece,” IOM said.
According to IOM, the great majority of the deaths from Jan. 1 to March 1 were on the central Mediterranean route from North Africa to Italy, a total of 477.
“Some of the migrants who make it to Europe and share their ordeal with the IOM reveal that their journey was far more dangerous than expected.
“Many are unaware of the dangers and risks of migrating with the assistance of smugglers, not only at sea or in the desert, but also in transit countries like Libya,” IOM stated.