from AHMED ZAYED in Tripoli, Libya
TRIPOLI, (CAJ News) – THE number of migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe has dropped significantly this year because of restrictions against the coronavirus COVID-19).
According to the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies (ACSS), crossings dropped 20 percent in 2020 to 81 502 arrivals.
African migrants comprised roughly half of those numbers.
During the period, the migration routes used to cross the Mediterranean have shifted from the Central to the Western Mediterranean.
This includes more dangerous routes such as from West Africa to the Spanish Canary Islands.
One in every 16 persons on that journey has gone missing or died.
Sea crossings from the Horn of Africa to Yemen fell by 97 percent between the first and third quarters of 2020, from 27 948 to 888.
These have remained low since, largely due to COVID-related border restrictions.
“COVID-related border closures across Africa have disrupted the normal flow of regional migration, putting migrants in greater danger,” ACSS stated.
The organisation said border closures in 43 of Africa’s 54 countries in 2020 created more challenges for migrants traveling regionally for work.
“These closures have trapped many migrants in unsafe situations and forced others to take migration routes that are more dangerous.”
Moreover, detentions and forced deportations from Algeria, East Africa and the Middle East left many migrants stranded in foreign countries.
Experts believe pandemic-related mobility restrictions have created an increased risk of trafficking for migrants once the pandemic is over.
– CAJ News