UN: Migrant death toll in Mediterranean in 2016 tops 5,000

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5,000 migrants have died trying to cross the Mediterranean in 2016 despite the annual drop in the total number of migrants making the sea journey, the UN has said in the latest figure that depicts the continuous plight of those risking their lives to reach Europe.
On Thursday, 90 migrants went missing off the coast of Italy on Thursday after two shipwrecks, contributing to the figure, which is the highest annual total yet.
MOAS Conduct Rescue Operations Off The Libyan Coast
A man is rushed to be given emergency CPR as members of MOAS, Migrant Offshore Aid Station make rescues at sea on November 22, 2016 in Pozzollo, Italy. Despite best efforts the man passed away shortly after. /CFP Photo

The increased number of deaths in the Mediterranean in 2016 can be linked to the use of substandard boats and harsh conditions at sea, according to spokesperson for the UN’s International Organization for Migration in Rome, Flavio Di Giacomo.

“This tragedy reminds us that the humanitarian emergency involving thousands of people dying while trying to flee Libya is not over,” said Di Giacomo. “In 2016 the number of arrivals by sea in Italy has kept growing, but the number of migrants dying is up dramatically.”
2015 saw 3,777 deaths in the maritime body, according to the UN agency.
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“That is nearly more than 2,000 more than in 2014, another year when over 3,000 men, women and children were lost on this dangerous passage,” Di Giacomo said. Last year, over a million people crossed the sea – mostly from Turkey to Greece.
Staff members prepare coffins to be used to contain the bodies of dead migrants in the Sicilian harbour of Palermo
Staff members prepare coffins to be used to contain the bodies of dead migrants in the Sicilian harbour of Palermo, Italy, October 24, 2016. /CFP Photo
But this year, about 360,000 people have successfully crossed, mostly from Libya to Italy, with far more deadly results.
“We are seeing more migrants crossing this winter. This trend confirms the fact that conditions in Libya are becoming increasingly dangerous for migrants, who are often trying to flee the country in order to save their lives,” he said.

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