Reality Check: Has the EU reduced migrant deaths?

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EPA

The claim: The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said: “We have drastically reduced the loss of life in the Mediterranean,” in his State of the Union speech to the European Parliament.

Reality Check verdict: The estimated number of deaths has gone down this year, but for those who make the crossing the risk of dying is greater in 2017.

Is it an accurate assessment by the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker to claim that the European Union’s migration policies have “drastically reduced” the number of people who drown while trying to cross the Mediterranean?

Obviously, it depends partly on how you define “drastically”.

The absolute number of deaths has certainly gone down.

In 2015, according to estimates issued by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), there were 3,771 people reported dead, or missing presumed dead, in the Mediterranean. In 2016, the number rose to 5,143. But so far this year – up to 10 September – it has fallen to 2,542.

That is still shockingly high, and Mr Juncker himself acknowledged that. “I will never accept that people are left to die at sea,” he said.

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AFP

Image caption

EU agencies have helped train the Libyan coastguard

Fewer arrivals

But when you compare the number of deaths with the number of people who have arrived in the EU, the 2017 figures look even worse – because the number of arrivals has fallen far more sharply than the number of deaths.

In 2015, again these are IOM estimates, a total of 1,011,712 people completed what are known as irregular sea crossings to reach the EU.

That means that for every…

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