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UN: Tens of Thousands of Migrants Have Died en Route to Europe Since 2000

© AP Photo / Petros GiannakourisIn this Sunday, March 20, 2016 file photo, volunteers help migrants and refugees on a dingy as they arrive at the shore of the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey.
In this Sunday, March 20, 2016 file photo, volunteers help migrants and refugees on a dingy as they arrive at the shore of the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey. - Sputnik International
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The highest number of deaths was recorded in 2016 when 5,096 people died after the shorter and less dangerous route from Turkey to Greece was shut, following a deal between the European Union and Turkey, a United Nations report published on Friday said.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – In total, the UN estimates that more than 30,000 migrants have died in recent years trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa to Europe.

"Crossing the Mediterranean to Europe is 'by far the world’s deadliest' journey for migrants, with at least 33,761 reported to have died or gone missing between 2000 and 2017," the UN said in a press release announcing the publication of the report.

Refugees boat (File) - Sputnik International
Over 131,000 Migrants Arrive in Europe by Sea in 2017 - UN Migration Agency
The 2016 EU-Turkey deal allowed refugees who did not qualify for asylum in Europe to be returned to Turkey.

"Shutting the shorter and less dangerous routes can open longer and more dangerous routes, thus increasing the likelihood of dying at sea," European University Institute Professor and author of the UN report Philippe Fargues wrote.

The report titled "Four Decades of Cross-Mediterranean Undocumented Migration to Europe" was produced by the UN-affiliated International Organization for Migration, the release said.

The document revealed that more than 2.5 million migrants have crossed the Mediterranean illegaly since the 1970s.

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