The migration crisis doesn’t seem to be abating.

West African migrants trying to reach Europe are dying in far greater numbers in the Sahara dester than in the Mediterranean.

However, that is no longer the fear. The new fear now is that the attempt to stop the people trying to make the dangerous crossing, may cause new routes to open up, thereby worsening the crisis.

The United Nations migration agency which raised this concern on Thursday noted that so far, this year 2,569 migrant deaths have been recorded in the central Mediterranean, while more than 107,000 migrants, mainly West Africans, have reached Italy.

“One thing we still don’t have is any estimate of number of deaths in the desert,” Richard Danziger, the U.N. International Organization for Migration director for West and Central Africa, told a news conference in Geneva.

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“We assume, and I think we have said before, that it has to be at least double those who die in the Mediterranean. But we really have no evidence of that, it’s just an assumption. We just don’t know.”

In Niger, a main transit route, people smugglers were increasingly scared of the authorities, which might make them more prone to abandon migrants in the desert, he said.

Many migrants had told of deaths in the desert, and some said the smugglers believed that if they drove fast through minefields they would be safe, said the IOM’s Niger mission chief, Giuseppe Loprete.

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