The Mediterranean death toll crossed 5,000

This year more than 5,000 people lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) an average of 14 people died every day during 2016 making the Mediterranean death toll the worst ever seen with over 5,000 people dying trying to reach Europe.

In 2016 the number of arrivals by sea was significantly lower with 359,000 arrivals recorded. Instead, last year over a million people crossed the Mediterranean and 3771 casualties were recorded.

The toll rose after two separate incidents were reported by the Italian Coastward in which rubber dinghies collapsed.

During a press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, the UNHCR spokesperson, William Spindler said, “the causes for the alarming increase in deaths this year are multiple but appear to be related to the declining quality of the vessels used by people smugglers, the vagaries of the weather and the tactics used by smugglers to avoid detection by the authorities. These include sending large numbers of embarkations simultaneously, which makes the work of rescuers more difficult.”

He stressed these incidents highlight the need to increase pathways for the admission of refugees, including resettlement, private sponsorship, family reunification and scholarships among others to that these people can avoid the dangerous journey and the smugglers.

Most of the people crossing the Mediterranean this year come from Syria (23%), followed by Afghanistan (12%) and Nigeria (10%). In fact, 53% of the arrivals come from the world’s top 10 refugee-producing countries. Men account for 57% of the people travelling, children for 26-5 and women for 17%.

The main routes through the Mediterranean ended in Italy and Greece where 179,747 and 173,208 arrivals were reported respectively.


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