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UN says migrant, refugee deaths in Mediterranean surpass 1,000 this year

  • 2 Jul 2018

A total of 204 people died at sea off Libya this weekend while the total number of migrants who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea so far this year has surpassed 1,000, the UN migration agency says.

A Libyan Navy boat with migrants on board arrives at a naval base in Tripoli, Libya, June 29, 2018. ( Reuters )

A total of 204 migrants died at sea off Libya this weekend while the total number of migrants who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea so far this year is now more than 1,000, the UN migration agency said on Sunday.

"From Friday to Sunday, close to 1,000 migrants were returned to Libyan shore by the Libyan Coast Guard, who intercepted small crafts as they made their way towards the open sea," International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a statement.

A migrant who died when a boat sank off Libya's western coast near Tripoli, Libya on June 29, 2018.(Reuters)

A small rubber boat packed with migrants had capsised off the east of Tripoli; an estimated 41 people were rescued, IOM said.

Three babies were among 103 migrants who died in a shipwreck on Friday.

"There is an alarming increase in deaths at sea off Libya Coast," IOM Libya Chief of Mission Othman Belbeisi said.

According to IOM, about 45,000 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea since the beginning of this year.

More than 1,000 perished in trying to make the crossing.

Anti-immigration stance

Europe’s migration crisis, which peaked with the arrival of more than one million asylum seekers in 2015, has been tapering off with arrivals falling to the tens of thousands so far this year. 

But the issue has taken on new political urgency in recent weeks as anti-immigrant parties make their influence felt.

A new government in Italy is refusing to allow charities that rescue migrants at sea to dock ships on its shores, and migration policy has threatened to bring down Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition in Germany.

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