During the first five months of 2016, 1 in every 23 migrants has died attempting to journey across the Central Mediterranean to Europe. This represents a drastic worsening of an already high death toll. Since the beginning of 2014, the overall ratio of deaths to numbers of migrant crossings has been 1 in 50. For 2015, it was 1 in 53. This ratio of deaths to attempted crossings worsened further in April and May 2016 when 1 migrant died for every 17 attempted crossings. This was 5 per cent of the total number of people who attempted the journey across the Central Mediterranean during these two these months. These estimated figures, using the same methodology and sources since the beginning of 2014, indicate an increasingly deadly route, despite the widespread media attention and public and policy awareness of this continuing humanitarian disaster.
This briefing aims to examine the available data on rising numbers of deaths and arrivals, analyse the changing routes towards the departure points for this dangerous sea journey into Europe, and investigate how patterns and trends have changed during the period between January 2014 and the end of May 2016.