The UN International Organisation for Migration, IOM, reported that up to 44 migrants died of thirst in northern Niger, when their vehicle broke down during an attempt to reach Europe via Libya earlier this week.
Nigerien officials said babies and women were among the migrants found dead. Details about the tragic incident were provided by six survivors who walked to a remote village where they said that those they were travelling with, mostly from Ghana and Nigeria, died of thirst.
The deaths were later confirmed by the mayor of Agadez, a remote town on the edge of the Sahara.
Guiseppe Loprete, IOM Chief of Mission in Niger, said this latest tragedy was a grim reminder that probably more migrants died in the Sahara Desert than in the Mediterranean, but due to the inhospitable nature of the region, it was virtually impossible to know the exact number.
The UN Migration Agency has reported that 71,029 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through 31st May, with over 80 per cent arriving in Italy and the remainder arriving in Greece, Cyprus and Spain.
This compared with 205,858 arrivals and 2,512 deaths across the region through 31st May 2016. Since the last UN Migration Agency (IOM) Mediterranean update (30th May), 1,271 rescued migrants have been brought to Italy.