GENEVA - Nearly 3,800 people died on migration routes within and from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) last year, the highest number recorded there since 2017, according to data published on Tuesday by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The United Nations migration agency's Missing Migrants Project (MMP) recorded 3,789 deaths in 2022 along sea and land routes in the region, including crossings of the Sahara Desert and Mediterranean Sea.

It said the recorded death toll - which was 11% higher than that recorded in 2021 and the highest since 4,255 documented six years ago - was likely much higher in reality due to scarce official data and limited access to migration routes for civil society and international organizations.

"This alarming death toll on migration routes within and from the MENA region demands immediate attention and concerted efforts to enhance the safety and protection of migrants," said Othman Belbeisi, IOM Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.