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  • U.S. President Trump partially shutdown the government at the end of December when the Senate did not pass a budget approving funds for a border wall with Mexico.

    U.S. President Trump partially shutdown the government at the end of December when the Senate did not pass a budget approving funds for a border wall with Mexico. | Photo: Reuters

Published 4 January 2019
Opinion

However, the Missing Migrants Project says many are never found in the remote regions of the desert they are forced to cross.

Hundreds of undocumented immigrants have died while attempting to cross the United States-Mexico border in 2018, according to the Missing Migrant Project, an NGO initiative that tracks the deaths of migrants around the world.

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The organization documented the deaths of 214 men, 20 women and four children in 2018. However, as many as 138 remains could not be identified by age or sex. The exact number remains unknown because many are never found.

“Those people who lose their lives attempting to reach the United States in this border region often do so due to the extreme natural conditions they face,” the group said in a report.

According to the report, most people have likely died of exposure and hypothermia, though deaths that occur in the desert go unreported. Others are expected to have drowned while trying to cross the Rio Grande which borders the two countries.

“Most deaths recorded on the U.S./Mexico border occur in the Arizona desert, with nearly 500 human remains discovered by the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner in the last three years,” the group added.

No More Deaths, a humanitarian aid group also known as No Mas Muertes, based in Tucson, Arizona, released footage last January showing border patrol agents emptying and kicking over gallons of water left for migrants crossing the Arizona desert, taken between 2010 and 2017.

“The US policy of ‘prevention by deterrence’ has driven people, who in desperation migrate from their homelands, to attempt the journey through these perilous lands in ever-increasing numbers,” No More Deaths said in a report released Christmas Eve, 2018.

“It is literally impossible to carry enough water to survive in desert terrain where temperatures consistently exceed 100 degrees during the summer months,” the report states.

As migrant and refugee crises continue across the globe, the situation at the U.S. and Mexico border makes for just seven percent of recorded fatalities worldwide in 2018, according to the Missing Migrant Project.

The greatest number of migrant deaths occurred in the Mediterranean where 2,242 people were killed crossing the Mediterranean Sea, the majority in the central region. Across Africa, 1,386 migrants died, according to the group. In each region, the majority of deaths took place in June, including at the U.S. / Mexico border.

Thousands of migrants part of an exodus from Central America, mostly from Honduras which has one of the highest rates of homicides with impunity in the world, have traveled across thousands of miles along a harrowing journey to seek entry to the U.S. in recent months alone.

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