UNHCR: More than 1,500 drown or go missing when trying to cross the Mediterranean

Image via UNHCR

“More than 1,500 drown or go missing trying to cross the Mediterranean in 2011” from UNHCR:

The UN refugee agency on Tuesday released figures showing that more than 1,500 irregular migrants or refugees drowned or went missing last year while attempting crossings of the Mediterranean Sea.

“This makes 2011 the deadliest year for this region since UNHCR started to record these statistics in 2006. The previous high was in 2007 when 630 people were reported dead or missing,” Senior Communications Officer Sybella Wilkes told journalists in Geneva, while adding that at least 18 people had drowned this year to date after setting off from Libya for Europe…

Wilkes also revealed that a record 58,000 irregular migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees managed to make it to European shores last year after setting off in boats from Asia or North Africa. The previous high was in 2008, when 54,000 people reached Greece, Italy and Malta.

During 2009 and 2010, border control measures sharply reduced the number of arrivals in Europe. The frequency of boat arrivals increased in early 2011 as the governments in Tunisia and Libya collapsed.

The majority of last year’s arrivals by sea landed in Italy (56,000, of whom 28,000 were Tunisian) while Malta and Greece received 1,574 and 1,030 respectively. The majority arrived in the first half of the year and most were migrants, not asylum-seekers or refugees. Only three smuggler’s boats arrived after mid-August…

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