2016 migrant death toll in Mediterranean nears 4,000 – IOM

Almost 4,000 migrants, including an unspecified number of Nigerians have died so far this year while trying to cross the Mediterranean, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported on Tuesday.

By the end of October, the treacherous sea route for people fleeing war and misery to Europe had claimed 3,940 lives, the UN-linked non-governmental organization said in Geneva.

The number looks set to surpass a second tragic milestone, after the UN’s refugee agency reported last week that 2016 had become the deadliest year ever for migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean.

According to the UN, 3,771 migrants died in 2015 on the sea route, which links key transit countries Turkey and Libya with Europe.

The death toll has increased despite a drop in migration to Europe compared to last year. In the first 10 months of 2015, around 730,000 migrants and refugees came to Europe via the Mediterranean; during the same period in 2016, that number dropped to 334,000.

UN experts attribute the increasing risks to people-smugglers on Libya’s lawless coastline overloading flimsy dinghies and boats with desperate people who are fleeing wars and economic hardships in their countries.

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