Mediterranean migrant death toll tops 2 000

2015-08-04 18:24


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Geneva - More than 2 000 migrants and refugees have died this year trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe, the International Organisation for Migration said on Tuesday.

The death toll is about 25% higher than in the same period last year, according to the aid organisation.

Migrants have been arriving in Greece and Italy by boat in roughly equal numbers, but nearly all of the deaths since January have occurred on the route from Libya to the Italian island of Sicily.

The most recent fatal boat incident took place along the Libyan-Italian route last week when 19 migrants died and nearly 460 were rescued.

Fourteen of them perished of heat exhaustion and thirst because drinking water had been used to cool the overheated boat engine, survivors said.

The expanded EU sea patrol mission Triton has led to a significant reduction of death rates at sea in the past months, the IOM said, but more needs to be done.

"It is unacceptable that in the 21st century people fleeing from conflict, persecutions, misery and land degradation must endure such terrible experiences ... and then die on Europe's doorstep," IOM Director General William Lacy Swing said.

About 188 000 migrants have been rescued in the Mediterranean so far this year.

Read more on:    italy  |  libya  |  greece  |  north africa  |  migrants
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