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The devastating cost of closed borders, in one map

A rescue worker tends to a small girl rescued off of the coast of Spain
A rescue worker tends to a small girl rescued off of the coast of Spain
Sergio Camacho/Getty Images

The broken global migration system is killing thousands of people. This week alone, more than 300 people are believed to have drowned when their boats sank en route to Europe.

This map, from the International Organization for Migration, shows migrant deaths on borders (and in oceans) around the world. Importantly, the IOM notes that the true number of deaths is likely higher. The map only includes deaths recorded by governments and other agencies; many migrant deaths occur in remote regions of the world and are thus never recorded.

IOM migrant deaths map

These deaths are avoidable. It is not as if these people are dying because we lack safe travel technology. Planes exist, as do safe boats.

But those means of travel are restricted to people privileged enough to obtain visas. And the developed world's harsh stance on migration from poor countries means that's rarely an option for desperate migrants fleeing persecution, war, or poverty. They are left with no choice but to rely on dangerous smuggling routes run by criminals.

By far the deadliest route is across the Mediterranean, in which thousands of would-be migrants died in 2014 trying to cross from North Africa to Europe; many had already endured difficult and dangerous journeys north across large stretches of Africa. European governments' immigration policies play a large role in making the trans-Mediterranean route so dangerous. But despite the obvious human cost, European political leaders are simply choosing not to fix the system.