Geneva : An estimated 10,000 migrants have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean since the start of 2014, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Tuesday in Geneva. UNHCR said the number of Mediterranean deaths had risen sharply in 2016, with 2814 people dying since the start of the year, following a total of 3771 in 2015 and 3500 the year earlier. That amounts to 10085 deaths in less than two-and-a-half years.
Several survivors have told IOM staff that the vessel was carrying 650 people when it sank Friday en route from Egypt to Italy. Meanwhile One 3-year-old girl survived because her father entrusted her to another migrant, asking him to look for her relatives in Egypt. The girl's father, mother and two brothers died, the migrant told IOM staff after he was rescued along with other survivors.
Millman said there was a sharp rise in children trying to cross the sea to join family members who are already in Europe. "Visa processes take a long time, so there is a strong urge to give your children into the hands of smugglers," he said.
The biggest national groups arriving in Italy are from Eritrea, Nigeria and Gambia, while those who have reached Greece this year were mainly from Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq. Meanwhile in Greece, the main gateway to Europe for migrants last year, the authorities revised the number of people registered on its soil upwards by nearly 10 per cent.
The body in charge of migrants attributed the rise to the first-time inclusion of migrants staying in UN-run camps. With that, the number of registered refugees and migrants rose to 57,458, some 7,500 of whom are sheltered in the so-called hotspots on Aegean islands. They have been stranded in Greece since March, when neighbouring Macedonia followed the example of other countries further north by sealing its border to migrants.
That same month, the European Union and Ankara agreed to send new arrivals back to Turkey. In return, the bloc has said it will resettle Syrian refugees directly from Turkey, but there has been slow progress on this side of the deal in practice. The number of arrivals from Turkey to Greek islands has declined dramatically since, from highs of thousands each day to one or two dozen.