At least 880 migrants and refugees have died trying to cross the Mediterranean during the past week, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
In a statement Tuesday, UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler gave updated figures from Sunday after interviewing survivors who crossed the Mediterranean to Italy.
Several shipwrecks last week on #Mediterranean appear to have claimed at lst 880 lives, according to info received from survivors in #Italy
— UNHCR News (@RefugeesMedia) May 31, 2016
“A series of shipwrecks and capsizing last week on the Mediterranean now appears to have claimed at least 880 lives, according to new information we have received through interviews of survivors in Italy,” Spindler said.
“As well as three shipwrecks that were known to us as of Sunday, we have received information from people who landed in Augusta over the weekend,” he added.
#opSophia the @Armada_esp frigate #ReinaSofia now rescuing these #migrants spotted by #SW3Merlin3 aircraft… pic.twitter.com/TZOngzwF7v
— EUNAVFOR MED OHQ (@EUNAVFORMED_OHQ) May 26, 2016
According to the UNHCR some 2,510 lives have been lost so far in 2016, compared to 1,855 in the same period last year. So far this year a total of 203,981 people have crossed the Mediterranean with around three-quarters travelling from Turkey to Greece and around 46,714 crossing to Italy.
“The North Africa-Italy route is dramatically more dangerous… 2,119 of the deaths reported so far this year have been among people making this journey, making for odds of dying as high as one in 23,” Spindler said.
Deadly week in Mediterranean as smugglers pack boats: UNHCR https://t.co/nZAN5Hat6X pic.twitter.com/ywHBS24WuX
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) May 31, 2016
1 dead in every 23 – new data shows the horrifying toll of lives lost on N.Africa-Italy sea crossings so far in 2016 https://t.co/Y2VFk0ZI7o
— Adrian Edwards (@AdrianEdwrds) May 31, 2016
Some unconfirmed reports suggest the recent increase in migrants trying to reach Greece and Italy are linked to efforts by smugglers to maximize income before the start of the holy month of Ramadan this week.