More than 3,400 people have died in the Mediterranean this year trying to reach Europe, the UN refugee agency said Wednesday, urging governments to take more action to save lives.
More than 207,000 people have made the risky sea crossing since January, almost three times the previous high of 70,000 during the Libyan civil war in 2011, the UNHCR said.
Of these, a record 3,419 died, out of a total of 4,272 reported deaths worldwide on migrant vessels this year.
Most set off from Libya bound for Italy and Malta, looking for work or, increasingly, asylum — the numbers include 60,051 Syrians and 34,561 Eritreans.
The figures were released at the start of a two-day meeting in Geneva hosted by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres on how to protect people who take to the sea to escape persecution, war, instability and poverty.
Ahead of the talks involving governments, UN agencies and NGOs, Guterres warned that many states seem increasingly preoccupied with securing their own borders rather than preventing the loss of life.
Without naming specific countries, he said: “This is a mistake, and precisely the wrong reaction for an era in which record numbers of people are fleeing wars.
“Security and immigration management are concerns …read more