Last year, the Mexican-American border was the most dangerous overland migration route in the world, according to a UN analysis. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported on Tuesday in Geneva that 686 migrants had died or were missing. However, there were probably many more deaths that were not registered anywhere. The number was around eight percent lower than the year before.

In total, at least 1,457 migrants died on the American continents last year, the IOM said. The organization has been registering deaths and missing persons on all migration routes worldwide since 2014. Since then, the IOM has registered a total of 58,447 deaths and missing persons. By far the highest number is in the Mediterranean: 28,074 people since 2014.

Last year, 2,411 deaths and missing persons were documented on the Mediterranean routes. This year there were already 2,325 on the routes from North Africa and Turkey towards Greece, Malta, Italy, Cyprus and Spain by the beginning of September.

Increased risks also for refugees from North Korea

According to a UN human rights expert, after the partial reopening of the country’s border by North Korea, the risk for refugee North Koreans of being forcibly returned to their homeland is increasing.

The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, Elizabeth Salmón, welcomed the steps to open the border in the South Korean capital Seoul. However, she was “extremely concerned about the acute risk of forced returns of North Koreans held in other countries,” Salmón said in a statement.

According to Salmón, returning is risky for those affected as they risk torture and other ill-treatment. The Peruvian lawyer emphasized that she had repeatedly drawn attention to the problem in China and other UN member states. Countries would have to adhere to the international law principle of non-refoulement. According to this principle, the return of people to states where they are at risk of torture or other serious human rights violations is prohibited.