UN says 1,900 migrants die in Mediterranean in 2015

International Organization for Migration reports 150,000 migrants reach Europe crossing Mediterranean in 2015 so far

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Some 150,000 migrants and refugees have reached Europe crossing the Mediterranean and more than 1,900 of them have died in the sea so far this year, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Friday.

1,841 of the migrants died in the central Mediterranean as they crossed from Libya to Malta or Italy.

The latests fatal incident occurred on Thursday evening when at least 12 migrants died off the Libyan coast, said IOM spokesman Joel Millman in a press conference in Geneva.

Nearly all of the people who crossed the Mediterranean so far this year have landed in Italy or Greece, with the numbers roughly equal.

More than 77,000 people have landed on Greek shores, the country which has been facing a “growing humanitarian crisis.”

"The arrival in Europe of 150,000 migrants is a substantial number but cannot be described as an invasion considering that Europe is home to over 500 million people and Lebanon, a country of 4 million people, is hosting 1.5 million Syrian refugees and Turkey is hosting about 2 million," said director of the IOM’s Mediterranean office, Federico Soda in a statement.

"On average, 1,000 arrive every day on the Greek islands," UNHCR spokesman William Spindler told reporters in Geneva.

He pointed out that most of the migrants were fleeing war-torn Syria.

"The numbers of people arriving are now so high that despite all efforts, the authorities and local communities can no longer cope," he warned, insisting "urgent response from Europe is needed before the situation deteriorates further."

Last month, European Union countries agreed to redistribute 40,000 Syrian and Eritrean asylum-seekers already present in Europe to help take the load off countries like Italy and Greece.

However, initial idea of imposing immigrant quotas on EU member countries was rejected after almost 10 countries including the UK, Hungary, Spain as well as France raised their objections, leading to a voluntary basis for  immigrant redistribution.


TRTWorld and agencies