The border between the United States and Mexico was the “most dangerous land migration route in the world” in 2022, with 686 dead or missing during that period, according to a report by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) presented this Tuesday.
“This figure represents almost half of the 1,457 deaths and disappearances of migrants” documented in the Americas in 2022, “the deadliest year” on record since the IOM’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP) began its activities in 2014, according to the same source.
“In 2022, 668 deaths of migrants were recorded (100 women, 454 men, 31 minors, and 83 of undetermined sex and age)” on the border between the United States and Mexico, the IOM’s annual regional summary indicated.
While there was an 8% decrease in deaths compared to 2021, the 2022 figure “is possibly higher than what available information indicates”, as there is missing official data, including from the border county in Texas and the Mexican search and rescue agency.
The main causes of death on the vast border between the United States and Mexico were drowning (212), vehicle accidents or deaths linked to dangerous transport (71), and extreme environmental conditions and lack of shelter, food, and adequate water (156).
Almost half (307) of the deaths occurred in the deserts of Sonora and Chihuahua. For comparison, there were 212 deaths recorded in the Sahara Desert in 2022, although the IOM warns that the data is likely incomplete.
More deaths in the Caribbean
In North America, the countries with the highest number of deceased migrants were Mexico, Guatemala, and Cuba, the IOM specifies.
“These alarming figures are a stark reminder of the need for states to take firm action,” said Michele Klein Solomon, IOM’s regional director for North America, Central America, and the Caribbean, quoted in the statement.
According to the report, “one of the most worrying trends was the increase in deaths along migration routes in the Caribbean, with 350 deaths documented in 2022 compared to 245 recorded in 2021.”
The most dangerous maritime routes in the region are those destined for the United States, the route from the Caribbean to Central America, and the journey from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico.
Migrants from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Cuba accounted for the highest number of deaths in the Caribbean area.
For its part, the inhospitable Darién jungle on the border between Panama and Colombia, another place where migration routes to the United States pass, recorded 141 documented migrant deaths in 2022. In 2021, there were 51, and in 2020, 26 cases were recorded.
“These data represent a minimum estimate of the actual figures; anecdotal reports continue to note that a large number of migrants die in Darién National Park—even testimonies from people who have buried other deceased migrants in the jungle—and their remains are never recovered,” the IOM points out.
This route is subject to increasing controls by the Panamanian government, which announced on Friday that it will intensify the deportation of migrants entering the country through this natural border of 266 km in length and 575,000 hectares in area.