The UN refugee agency says 2016 is set to be the “deadliest year” ever for refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean.
Figures up to 23 October record at least 3,740 lives reported lost.
That is just a few short of the total of 3,771 reported for the whole of 2015.
According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, the number of migrants reported dead or missing while attempting the perilous crossing is only 15 percent lower than the death toll for the whole of 2015.
The two most dangerous months for crossings are yet to come.
What is especially worrying, the UN and the International Organization of Migration (IOM) point out, is that while the number of crossings has decreased substantially – more than a million in 2015, compared to around 300,000 so far this year – the death rate has increased.
The UN attributes the increase to multiple causes:
- Use of riskier routes
- More crossings in very bad weather
- Smugglers organising mass boarding involving thousands of people in numerous flimsy boats at one time, thus over burdening rescue services – a new tactic.