The United Nations has released new estimates showing that more than 10,000 refugees died attempting to cross the Mediterranean waters into Europe since 2014.
“You've now had since the start of 2014 - when this phenomenon of rising numbers across the Mediterranean happened - 10,000 deaths. That threshold has been crossed just in the last few days,” UN Refugee Agency spokesman Adrian Edwards said Tuesday.
The UN official said the number has been rising rapidly in the past few months, meaning that a new record could be set by the number of refugees dying while attempting to cross the Mediterranean. “This is clearly an appalling number of deaths that have occurred in the Mediterranean, just on Europe's borders just in the past couple of years,” Edwards said, calling on the international community to put more efforts at finding a solution to the crisis.
He said the “extremely worrying dynamic” of the deaths of refugees should remind the world that there must be a “viable alternative and regular means of dealing with these movements.”
“They're happening, they're not stopping, they need a solution to prevent further lives being lost,” he said, adding that 2,814 people have died since the start of 2016 in the Mediterranean waters.
Meanwhile, the International Organization for Migration said Tuesday that the toll in 2016 was already one thousand higher than the same period last year.
More than a million managed to reach Europe, mostly through the Mediterranean, in 2015, creating the worst refugee crisis for the continent in decades. In a bid to reduce the flow, the European Union signed a deal in March with Turkey to deport refugees from Greece. However, the IOM said a total of 206,400 refugees had arrived in Europe since the start of the year, mainly landing in Greece and Italy.