TIME Refugees

2016 on Track for the Highest Death Toll of Refugees in the Mediterranean

Refugees are disembarked from the Coast Guard ship "Bruno Gregoretti," on Oct. 23, 2016 in Naples, Italy.
Michele Amoruso—Getty Images Refugees are disembarked from the Coast Guard ship "Bruno Gregoretti," on Oct. 23, 2016 in Naples, Italy.

Though fewer people are migrating, more are dying

This year is on track to be the deadliest on record for refugees in the Mediterranean, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

In a press briefing on Wednesday, spokesperson William Spindler said that with two months still remaining in the year, at least 3,740 people were reported dead in the Mediterranean, almost as many as the 3,771 killed in all of 2015. “This is the worst we have seen,” he said.

This uptick is in spite of the fact that far fewer people are attempting the crossing—327,800 so far this year, compared with 1,015,078 last year. The higher fatality rate may be due to a range of causes, from smugglers taking more dangerous routes to using flimsier vessels. Bad weather has also played a role in some deaths.

UNHCR is urging countries to make safer pathways available and consider “enhanced resettlement and humanitarian admissions, family reunification, private sponsorship, and humanitarian, student and work visas for refugees.”

[UNHCR]

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