News World 2016 now deadliest year in the Med – UN

2016 now deadliest year in the Med – UN

Mediterranean rescue migrants MSF
Rescued refugees aboard the Bourbon Argos ship during an operation coordinated by MSF. Photo: Borja Ruiz Rodriguez/ MSF via AP
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The UN refugee agency says at least 3800 migrants have died in the Mediterranean Sea so far this year in an attempt to reach Europe, making 2016 the deadliest year on record.

The assessment comes as news breaks of another 29 migrants found dead at the bottom of a rubber boat in the Mediterranean, with 107 survivors rescued from the same raft.

Aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says 23 of the rescued people had horrific chemical burns, with seven so severely injured that they needed to be evacuated to Italy, two by helicopter.

The Geneva-based agency had warned on Tuesday that this year’s death toll was likely to exceed the 3771 deaths reported for the whole of 2015.

“We’re receiving more reports of deaths in the Med,” spokesman William Spindler tweeted Wednesday.

“We can now confirm that at least 3800 people have died, making 2016 the deadliest ever.

Scores of migrants have been drowning each week as the fragile and often overcrowded boats they travel on capsize or sink, the UN agency said.

It blamed bad weather, flimsy boats and the fact that migrants fleeing war and poverty are increasingly taking the hazardous central Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy in an attempt to reach Europe.

A deal between the European Union and Turkey largely closed off the eastern route earlier this year.

About half of the 327,800 migrants who crossed the Mediterranean this year did so using the central route, where about one in every 47 people dies.

By comparison, the overall death rate for the whole Mediterranean last year – when more than a million people arrived in Europe – was one in 269 crossings.

The UN agency also said that smugglers have been changing their tactics, arranging mass embarkations of thousands of people at once.

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