Rome, July 26 (IANS/AKI) Over 3,000 migrants and refugees have died in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe in 2016, a far higher toll than during the same period of 2015, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said.
The discovery of the bodies of 39 migrants which washed up on Libya’s beaches this week brings the number of deaths to 3,034, a “significantly” higher number than the 1,917 people who lost their lives in the first seven months of 2015.
“This means that for the third straight year, IOM will report migration fatalities of at least 3,000 men, women and children on these dangerous sea routes,” IOM said.
An estimated 250,000 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 — only slightly higher than in the same period of 2015 — most arriving in Italy and Greece, according to IOM.
A reason for the spike in Mediterranean Sea deaths this year was a series of shipwrecks in late May involving larger vessels each with hundreds of people on board, one which claimed the lives of 500 migrants said IOM.
It has proved extremely difficult to curb the number of victims despite “the constant and increased patrolling of the Mediterranean”, IOM said, praising Italian and other rescuers.
“Without the presence and the outstanding work of the Italian and international ships that save hundreds of lives every day, the number of missing migrants would almost certainly be much higher,” said IOM’s Rome spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo.