The International Organization for Migration (IOM), a subsidiary UN agency, says Saturday nearly 5,000 refugees, or 16 people a day, have died this year amid ongoing exodus from conflict zones to Europe as well as a military crackdown in Myanmar.
The agency said in a report on Friday that some 150,982 refugees have entered Europe by the Mediterranean so far this year, in comparison with 335,158 arrivals in Europe through the same period in 2016.
The IOM added that 4,866 refugees and asylum seekers have died worldwide since the beginning of the year.
The UN body further noted that Cyprus had become a new pathway to continental Europe as the number of refugees entering other parts of Europe by sea in 2017 had gone down.
Some 105 refugees used this route in 2017 and 850 refugees in total arrived in Cyprus by boat, nearly three times total of 345 migrants last year, according to the IOM.
“Just counting arrivals in Italy and Greece, totals were around 204,000 in 2014 and doubling to 355,000 in 2016 after cresting past one million (1,007,000) in 2015,” the agency noted.
Europe has been facing an unprecedented influx of refugees, most of whom are fleeing conflict zones in North Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria. Many blame major European powers for the exodus, saying their policies have led to a surge in terrorism and conflicts in the Middle East, displacing the locals.
Refugees from Libya wave from a boat as they wait to be rescued by the Aquarius rescue ship in the Mediterranean Sea, near the Libyan coast, on August 2, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Over the past week, the remains of eight people were recovered in the Central Mediterranean during rescue operations off the coast of Libya.
Two accidents were also recorded near the Italian-Austrian border in Europe, where one refugee lost his life in a vehicle accident and another was hit by a train.
In Southeast Asia, six Rohingya Muslim refugees died and one went missing after two boats carrying dozens of people fleeing violence in Myanmar capsized off the coast of Bangladesh over two days late in October.—Agencies