Over 4,7000 migrants perish in Mediterranean

Rome, Dec 6 (IANS/AKI) A record 4,715 boat migrants have died Mediterranean this year, while 351,080 migrants have landed in southern Europe, mainly in Greece and Italy till December 4, the International Organisation for Migration said on Tuesday.

Although the number of arrivals has dropped by more than half compared with the 883,393 migrants who arrived during the same period of 2015, 1,148 more people have drowned, IOM said.

The total number of migrant and refugee fatalities in the Mediterranean this year till November 27 is 4,715 – 1,148 more deaths than in the same period of 2015.

The overwhelming majority of the fatalities (4,223) occurred on the perilous central Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy, according to IOM. The United Nations refugees agency expects the death-toll to reach 5,000 by the year’s end, its chief Filippo Grandi warned on Friday.

The number of migrants who landed in Greece this year fell by over three-quarters to 171,875 from 739,188 in 2015, following a landmark deal between the European Union and Turkey in March under which the country agreed to take back any asylum-seekers.

IOM said some 173,571 people have arrived by sea in Italy this year, up from 144,205 in 2015, as more mainly African migrants attempt the crossing from Libya.

Italy is struggling to cope with the growing influx of migrants and has threatened to veto the EU’s 2017 budget unless it does more to help, including relocating 39,600 asylum seekers from its soil to other European countries.