Almost 1,300 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean in 2019, the International Organization for Migration announced.
The 1,282 drownings were 44% down on 2018, it said.
The number of deaths since 2014 was now 19,164, the IOM said.
On the most dangerous route, between Libya and Italy, one migrant in 33 drowned last year compared to a one in five ratio in 2017, the IOM experts said.
The number of migrants who came to Europe by sea in 2019 was 110,669, 5% down on the previous year.
So, while the number of migrant deaths recorded in the Mediterranean is down in 2019 compared to previous years, IOM records indicate that hundreds of lives were lost without a trace this year. These ‘ghost boats’ – vessels reported missing en route to Europe for which no hard evidence can be found – have become increasingly frequent since the search and rescue presence of European and non-governmental actors fell in mid-2017.
One of these unaccounted for boats was carrying at least 73 people and disappeared in the Alborán Sea en route to Spain on 26 November, including 20 women and 3 children. Another boat disappeared in the Western Mediterranean in January, while at least another five vessels went missing off the coast of Libya en route to Italy. In all seven of these 2019 cases recorded by the Missing Migrants Project, no survivors were rescued at sea near the time of the distress calls.