The number of migrants and refugees who have died while making the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean is expected to reach an all-time high in 2016, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
The 3,740 lives lost so far in 2016 “is the worst we have seen,” William Spindler, agency spokesman, said at a press briefing in Geneva on 25th October. For all of 2015, the agency said, 3,771 refugees lost their lives on the sea.
“This year so far, crossings stand at 327,800. From one death for every 269 arrivals last year, in 2016 the likelihood of dying has spiraled to one in 88. On the central Mediterranean route between Libya and Italy, the likelihood of dying is even higher, at one death for every 47 arrivals,” Spindler said.
Among the reasons for the increased death rate, he said, is increased use of the more dangerous route from North Africa to Italy; about half of those who perished at sea were travelling that route.
While many boats have capsized due to bad weather, Spindler said human traffickers have also smuggled thousands of people at a time using “lower-quality vessels – flimsy inflatable rafts that do not last the journey.”
Picture: Crew members of the the Irish Naval Service approach a boat filled with migrants in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Tripoli, Libya, on 21st October. The number of migrants and refugees who have died while making the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean is expected to reach an all-time high in 2016, according to the UN Refugee Agency. (CNS photo/Irish Naval Service via EPA).