The leaders of the nine Mediterranean countries in the European Union gathered in the Med9 and met on September 29th in Malta to align their positions, particularly on immigration. Between June and August 2023, at least 990 people perished in the Mediterranean, the maritime route connecting North Africa to Europe, which is three times the 334 migrants who lost their lives during the same period in 2022, according to a count by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Migration issues are at the forefront of a summit in Malta on September 29, 2023, during the Med9, which brings together the heads of state from nine countries on the northern shores of the Mediterranean. A meeting is planned between French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Amid negotiations at the European level for a new migration pact, they are expected to discuss a European emergency plan on this issue, developed following the record influx of migrants on the Italian island of Lampedusa this month.
Graveyard for Children
Several United Nations agencies are sounding the alarm about a significant increase in the number of deaths in the Mediterranean this year, especially during the summer of 2023. Three times as many people lost their lives or went missing while attempting to cross this sea to reach European shores, compared to the same period last year. According to UNICEF, nearly a thousand people have perished, turning the Mediterranean into a “graveyard for children.”
This rise has been confirmed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Since the beginning of the year, the UNHCR has reported over 2,500 deaths or disappearances in the Mediterranean, a 50% increase compared to the same period in 2022.
In addition to these figures, some die on land during their journey to the northern shores of the African continent, one of the most perilous journeys in the world, according to a UNHCR representative in New York. She addressed the United Nations Security Council during a meeting on the Mediterranean migrant crisis.
The issue was reignited by spectacular images in mid-September of a record influx of 8,500 people in three days on Lampedusa. Since January, 186,000 people have arrived in southern Europe, an 83% increase compared to last year.