UN records record number of dead and missing migrants in Caribbean

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The reports are almost always similar: on December 31, 18 Cubans were declared missing at sea near Havana while trying to emigrate to the US. Two days earlier, an island citizen died and 15 others went missing in Matanzas, east of the capital.

Cases like these have multiplied. The International Organization for Migration (IOM), an arm of the UN, reported this Tuesday (24) that a record number of deaths and disappearances of migrants was documented in 2022 in the Caribbean seas: at least 321.

The figure is the highest since 2014, when the IOM began documenting the phenomenon. In the previous year, 2021, there were 180 dead and missing. Already in the accumulated since the beginning of the count, there were at least 1,329 victims in the region. In January of this year alone, there were 41.

Most of the migrants who died or disappeared were from Haiti (80), Cuba (69), Dominican Republic (56) and Venezuela (25), nations that are facing serious social and economic crises, and the main cause of death is caused drowning due to the difficult weather conditions in the region and the precarious condition of the vessels.

More than half of the victims, however, could not be identified, IOM regional coordinator for the Caribbean, Patrice Quesada, said in a statement. “This means that hundreds of families have no information about the whereabouts of their loved ones.”

Historically, the main migratory route that observes the death and disappearance of migrants is the one that leaves Cuba bound for the United States – in 2022, there were 174 cases. With the serious economic crisis on the island, accentuated after the coronavirus pandemic and the unification of national currencies, the exodus from Cuba presented a leap that could also be observed in migrations to Brazil.

Other migratory routes in the world also show concern for the UN. The most significant is that of the Mediterranean, which since 2014 has recorded at least 25,413 deaths and disappearances. Following are those that pass through Africa, with 12,257, and, in third place, those that are concentrated in the Americas, with at least 7,253 since the beginning of monitoring.

In the region, the most attention-grabbing portion is on the US-Mexico border, where more than 3,500 immigrants have died in the last ten years, most due to extreme weather conditions or lack of housing, food and water.

Joe Biden’s government, despite having left behind the anti-immigration rhetoric of his predecessor, Donald Trump, maintained policies put in place by the republican to expel migrants arriving at the border with the neighboring country.

With the support of the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico, Biden recently announced a package of measures that facilitates the expulsion of citizens from countries such as Cuba, Venezuela and Haiti.

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