NEW YORK, August 3 – More than 1,500 migrants lost their lives in the Mediterranean in the first seven months of this year in an attempt to reach Europe, while smugglers are using all the unreliable vessels, UN officials said today.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said more than 850 people were killed in June and July only, which makes the transition to the world’s most deadly route in the world.
The Commissariat is particularly concerned that the rate of casualties in crossings is rising, so that one person died for every 31 who tried to reach the sea in Europe during the two months, while in 2017 one person was killed for every 49 people who tried to cross.
The number of deaths is high, although the number of people arriving in Europe has dropped to 60,000 this year, half the year, less than in the same seven months of 2017.
UN Special Envoy Vensan Kohtel urged states and authorities along transit routes to take all necessary action to disperse and break down networks of smugglers.
“In order to save lives at sea, we must apply appropriate and necessary measures to suit those who are trying to gain profits from exploiting vulnerable human beings,” Koštel said.
He said the smugglers use the worst and weaker ships that were then overwhelmed by passengers and let them crash into the sea hoping to get some ship to save them.
UNHCR said that unless appropriate measures are taken, more people will lose their lives on the seas next month, as smugglers will try to take advantage of favorable weather conditions.
Spain has now become the main destination, where 23,500 people have reached the sea this year so far, compared to 18,500 to Italy and 16,000 to Greece.