eraziofischer (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Ten times as many migrants lost their lives attempting to cross the Mediterranean in the first three months of 2015, compared with the equivalent period in 2014.

The Guardian reports:

At least 486 asylum seekers have drowned in the Mediterranean since the start of the year, compared with 46 in the first three months of 2014, according to preliminary figures supplied to the Guardian by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). The death toll has risen sharply even though the number of migrants arriving in Europe by sea has remained roughly the same. It suggests that the EU’s decision not to create a like-for-like replacement of Mare Nostrum, a full-scale Italian rescue operation that folded last October, has neither curbed the number of attempts to cross the sea, nor fatalities along the way.

The rate of deaths far outstrips the rate in early 2014, leading to fears that the total number of drownings in 2015 will eventually surpass last year’s total of 3,419, which was itself a record. A quarter of the way into the year, the 2015 death toll has already almost overtaken the total annual estimates from 2012 and 2013, which respectively reached 500 and 600. …

“There are many reasons for these shipwrecks, so we can’t say that this 486 would have been 40 or 50” if Mare Nostrum was still operational, said [Flavio Di Giacomo, IOM’s spokesman in Italy]. “But it is true that last year Mare Nostrum involved these big navy ships that were able to intercept and rescue many migrants at sea, while now some [migrant] ships are not able to be rescued because the Italian coastguards arrive too late.”

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.


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