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Missing Migrants Project: Quarterly Regional Overview - Middle East & North Africa (July 1 - September 30, 2021)

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Many migrants who have been affected by conflict and socioeconomic hardships and the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to embark on extremely perilous routes within and from North Africa. Although anecdotal reports indicate that many migrants die or disappear on these routes, the nature of their clandestine crossings especially across the desert means that less is known about what happened to them. The Missing Migrants Project (MMP) has recorded 64 migrant deaths on land routes in Northern Africa during the third quarter of 2021, bringing the total recorded in 2021 to 155, compared to 88 in the same period of 2020. However, many limitations on data collection suggest that the real number may be much higher. At sea, the phenomenon of “invisible shipwrecks” has also persisted in an alarming manner along routes with little official reporting such as the Western Mediterranean Route (WMR) and the Western Africa-Atlantic Route (WAAR). The latter has been the deadliest migratory route recorded worldwide during the third quarter of 2021, in which the deaths of migrants (485) have surpassed the number of deaths on the Central and Western Mediterranean Routes combined (467). Overall, documenting migrant deaths on these routes is hindered by the lack of public and reliable sources of information, which means that the recorded migrant fatalities represent an undercount of the tragic incidents occurring in the region, and it is often not disaggregated by nationality, gender or age.