2016 is set to be the deadliest year on record for refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean to reach Italy and Greece.
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.
Nonetheless, arrivals are down from a year ago.
At this rate, 2016 will be the deadliest year on record in the Mediterranean
“Despite the number of crossings this year being 42% lower than during the same period last year, the number of people reported dead or missing so far this year is only 15% lower than the total number of casualties for the whole of 2015. At this rate, 2016 will be the deadliest year on record in the Mediterranean,” said UN office of the high commissioner for refugees spokesman William Spindler.
While migrant traffic into Europe has eased, tensions on the continent over the issue remain high.
The migrant crisis took centre stage at the just concluded UN summit on refugees.
“The number of refugees and migrants reaching European shores this year passed the 300,000 mark today, UNHCR figures show. This is considerably lower than the 520,000 registered sea arrivals during the first nine months of 2015, but it is higher than the 216,054 arrivals during the whole of 2014,” added spindler.
The two European countries, Greece and Italy, receiving the vast majority of migrants are each recording different patterns.
Arrivals in Greece have dropped sharply but in Italy the figures remain at similar levels as last year.