More people crossing the United States-Mexico border are dying, despite significantly fewer people attempting the journey according to the UN’s migration agency.
“Some 232 migrant fatalities have been recorded in the first seven months of 2017, an increase of 17 per cent compared with the 204 deaths recorded between January and July 2016,” said Julia Black, of the Missing Migrants Project, part of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM.
The UN agency stated that the US Border Patrol has caught 140,024 migrants between January and June 2017.
“Fifty bodies were recorded as discovered in July, the most recorded in any month so far this year,” Ms. Black said. Their bodies were discovered in various locations including along the Rio Grande, 16 in Texas and ten fatalities inside a truck at San Antonio.
Pima County in Arizona is one of the most dangerous crossings, with 15 bodies found here. Temperatures can reach about 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). To date this year, 96 corpses were found in Pima County. The number could be much higher as many migrant deaths go unreported.
Heavy rainfall in the last few months has made the Rio Grande river much faster and deeper, according to the IOM. Also known as Rio Bravo, at 1,885 miles (3,034 km) long, it is the fourth longest river system in the United States.
The report does not identify what could be bringing about the change, but stricter immigration policies in the US have historically been cited for driving people to take more dangerous routes. No More Deaths, an advocacy group in Arizona, claims that immigration policies have grown more hostile since President Trump was elected in 2016.
The MMP has catalogued over 1,250 migrant fatalities on the US-Mexico border since 2014. The figures are set to increase over 2017, as Ms Black says “it’s something that is true for all regions of the world, unfortunately.”