GENEVA, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) — UN agencies said Tuesday that the number of migrants and refugees who died while crossing the Mediterranean this year has exceeded 2,000 while the numbers crossing the sea reached 100,630.
UN refugee agency UNHCR spokesperson Charlie Yaxely said at a UN briefing here, “Some 17 people have been found dead this week off the Spanish coast, meaning that the number of lives lost on the Mediterranean this year has now exceeded 2,000.”
“The Mediterranean has for several years been the world’s deadliest sea route for refugees and migrants. That it continues to be so, should be unacceptable to all,” the spokesperson said.
He said that around 105,000 asylum seekers and migrants have reached Europe so far this year, representing a return to pre-2014 levels.
“However, the 2,000 drownings mean that the rate of deaths, particularly in the Central Mediterranean, has escalated sharply,” said Yaxley, adding that in September, one life was lost for every eight people who crossed.
“This was in large part due to substantially reduced search and rescue capacity,” said the UNHCR spokesperson.
At the same briefing, UN migration agency the International Organization for Migration (IOM) spokesperson Joel Millman said that the number of migrants and refugees entering Europe by sea in 2018 through Nov. 4, marked the fifth straight year their arrivals have topped 100,000.
IOM said that the 100,630 migrants and refugees who entered Europe by sea in 2018 through Nov. 4, included 49,013 to Spain, the region’s most active destination point this year, with just under 50 percent of all 2018 arrivals.
The region’s total arrivals through the recent weekend compare with 154,825 arrivals across the region through the same period last year, and 337,773 at this point in 2016, said the IOM.
“This marks the fifth straight year arrivals of irregular migrants and refugees have topped the 100,000 benchmark — although in all previous years that arrival threshold was reached much earlier in the year,” said Millman.
Last year that quantity of arrivals was reached in July, just as was the case in 2014. In 2015 Mediterranean arrivals reached 100,000 in June. In 2016 the number was reached in February.