2017 Refugee Death Toll in Mediterranean Surpasses 1,000: UN
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Around 100 refugees have drowned in the Mediterranean according to shipwreck survivors, raising the death toll for the perilous crossing to Italy to over 1,000 victims in 2017, the UN’s refugee agency said.
“This latest tragedy pushes the number of people dead or missing in the central Mediterranean to 1,073 so far this year,” the UNHCR told AFP.
Among the 8,000 or so refugees plucked from flimsy dinghies over Easter weekend were survivors who told the agency about 100 of their fellow passengers had been claimed by the waves. At this point last year, 853 people had lost their lives or were feared drowned.
Overstretched refugee aid groups describing “unprecedented mass rescues” of people fleeing horrors in conflict-torn Libya over Easter had warned more people risked drowning without EU action.
Italian tugboat Asso 29 disembarked 1,170 of those rescued in Vibo Valentia in Calabria Tuesday, including families from Syria, Tunisia, Bangladesh and Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Some of those who arrived in Vibo Valentia told us there were around 100 people who died during the crossing,” UNHCR’s Federico Fossi told AFP Friday, stressing that as always in these situations it was “difficult to get precise details on what had happened.”
More than 36,700 people have been pulled to safety and brought to Italy so far this year according to the International Organization for Migration, an increase of nearly 45 percent compared with the same period last year.
At least 150 of those lost were children, though the figure is likely to be higher as many underage refugees travel unaccompanied so their deaths often go unreported, UNICEF said Friday.