UN: Average of nearly 1 migrant child death daily since 2014

GENEVA — Migrant children have died or gone missing at the rate of nearly one per day worldwide over the past five years, with treacherous journeys like those across the Mediterranean or the U.S.-Mexico border, the U.N. migration agency said Friday.

In its latest “Fatal Journeys” report, the International Organization for Migration released findings that some 1,600 children — some as young as 6 months old — are among the 32,000 people who have perished in dangerous travels since 2014. That overall figure is likely to be lower than the real number of deaths, because many bodies are never found or identified, IOM said.

The report comes as migrant deaths have come into greater focus this week following the publication of a harrowing image of a Salvadoran father and child who drowned in the Rio Grande as they tried to cross into the U.S. from Mexico. In its report, the U.N. agency pointed to rising deaths every year along the U.S.-Mexico border since 2014, totaling more than 1,900 over five years.

The Mediterranean, though, remains the most fatal crossing, with over 17,900 people dying there — many on the hazardous trip between Libya and Italy.

But from 2017 to 2018, the annual number of deaths and disappearances globally dropped by nearly 25 percent — to 4,734. IOM said that was most likely due to a drop in the number of people using the central Mediterranean route to get to Europe.

Overall, though the report focuses on missing migrant children, saying a growing number of children are embarking on dangerous journeys. The organization also laments a dearth of data about migrant children.