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US-Mexico border ‘is world’s deadliest’ asylum-seekers' route

Asylum seekers line up near Roma, Texas. (File photo by Reuters)

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has ranked the United States-Mexico border as the world's most deadly route for asylum-seekers passing on land.

IOM reported on Tuesday that it had documented 686 deaths and disappearances of asylum-seekers on the US-Mexico border in 2022, making it the deadliest land route for migrants worldwide on record.

It said this figure represented nearly half of the 1,457 asylum-seekers' deaths and disappearances recorded throughout the Americas in 2022, the deadliest year on record since IOM’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP) began in 2014.

IOM’s MMP annual report, which underscores the growing death toll and increasing risks that asylum-seekers face throughout the region, showed these figures represented the lowest estimates available as many more deaths were likely to go unrecorded due to lack of data from official sources about the deaths of illegal migrants. 

Ana Maria from El Salvador carries her one-year-old son Mateo as they walk through a field with other asylum-seeking migrants from Central America after they illegally crossed the Rio Grande river into the United States from Mexico, in Penitas, Texas, March 31, 2019. (File photo by Reuters)

According to the data in this report, the number of deaths and disappearances in the US-Mexico border had decreased by 8 percent from the previous year.

The report suggested that the 2022 figure is likely higher than the available information suggests, due to missing official data, including information from Texas border county coroner's offices and the Mexican search and rescue agency.

The San Pedro Sula bus terminal is the meeting point for Honduran asylum-seekers, where they, including children, depart for Guatemala to cross into Mexico and head to the United States. (Photo by Noticias Telemundo Investiga)

Approximately half of the deaths on the US-Mexico border were linked to the perilous crossing of the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts, far more than other desert regions where irregular asylum-seekers' passing is prevalent.

Some 212 people died in the Sahara Desert in 2022.

However, due to the remoteness of these areas, data in this regard is likely incomplete.

“These alarming figures are a stark reminder of the need for decisive action by States,” said Michele Klein Solomon, IOM Regional Director for Regional Director for Central and North America and the Caribbean.

“Enhancing data collection is crucial. Ultimately, what is needed is for countries to act on the data to ensure safe, regular migration routes are accessible.”

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