GENEVA, 8th January, 2017 (WAM) — International Organisation for Migration, IOM, has released figures for all migrant or refugee deaths worldwide in 2016, reporting an estimated 7,495 men, women and children dead or missing across five continents. That total compares to 5,267 in 2014 and 5,740 last year. The three-year total is 18,501.

Much of the increase is due to the more advanced research methods used by IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, although many IOM officials believe migrant routes also grew more deadly in 2016, particularly along the Central Mediterranean route between North Africa and Europe, where nearly 4,600 migrants perished last year.

Commenting on the announcement, William Lacy Swing, IOM’s Director-General, said, “These data, 18,501 deaths over three years, are simply shocking. That’s 1,096 days, according to the calendar, or almost 20 deaths per day. And we don’t believe we are anywhere near counting all of the victims. We are past the time for counting. We must act to make migration legal, safe and secure for all.”

According to IOM analysts, the Missing Migrants Project data point to two enduring trends. The first, that mature migration routes such as the Meso-american corridor linking Latin America to North America and the Central Mediterranean route linking the Sahara region to Southern Europe, continue to operate at full capacity despite the efforts by destination countries to tamp down the number of arrivals. The second, that while some routes are becoming more deadly, the increase in data largely reflects the growing use of migrants relying on social media and personal, handheld devices to chronicle their journeys.