Advertisement

U.N.: Migrant deaths in Mediterranean so far in 2016 surpass 2015 total

“This is the worst we have ever seen,” a U.N. official said.

By Andrew V. Pestano
U.N.: Migrant deaths in Mediterranean so far in 2016 surpass 2015 total
The United Nations on Wednesday said the number of people who've died while trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe so far in 2016 has surpassed last year's total with about two months left in the year. At least 3,800 have died this year compared to the 3,771 total who died last year. In this image, Syrian refugees walk towards the Kelenföld train station in Budapest in an effort to pressure the Hungarian government to provide them with trains or buses to transport them to the Austrian border on September 5, 2015. File photo by Achilleas Zavallis/UPI | License Photo

GENEVA, Switzerland, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- The United Nations on Wednesday said the death toll of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean so far in 2016 has surpassed last year's total with about two months left.

On Tuesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had said 3,740 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean so far in 2016, compared to 3,771 in 2015.

Advertisement

On Wednesday, UNHCR spokesman William Spindler updated those numbers, saying 2016 is now the deadliest year following an incident in the Mediterranean.

"We're receiving more reports of deaths," Spindler wrote on Twitter. "We can now confirm that at least 3,800 people have died, making 2016 the deadliest ever."

RELATED 'Jungle' camp in Calais set ablaze amid migrant relocation

Last year, about 1,015,000 people crossed the Mediterranean to Europe. This year, about 327,800 made the crossing.

RELATED Baby boy born aboard Doctors Without Borders rescue boat

The United Nations said there are several explanations for the increase in migrant deaths this year when when there were fewer people attempting to cross.

They include more migrants attempting to travel from North Africa to Italy, which is a more dangerous route, and that smugglers are attempting take thousands of people at a time in perilous conditions.

Advertisement
RELATED Islamic State kills dozens over Afghan sheep theft

"People smugglers are today often using lower-quality vessels -- flimsy inflatable rafts that often do not last the journey. Several incidents seem to be connected with travel during bad weather," Spindler said while in Geneva. "This may be to do with the shifting smuggler business model or geared towards lowering detection risks, but it also makes the work of rescuers harder."

A migrant crisis escalated throughout 2015 as people fled conflict and poverty in Syria, and also Afghanistan, Eritrea and Iraq. Migrants have arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean Sea and also by land through Turkey and Greece.

RELATED Report: Global economic gender gap widens; U.S. drops 17 spots

RELATED U.N.: 'Barbaric' Islamic State indiscriminately killing civilians amid Mosul fight

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement