The UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, has today reported that 2016 has become the deadliest year yet for people crossing the Mediterranean.
The UNHCR tweeted that more than 3,800 people have now lost their lives making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean this year, more than the 3,771 reported during the whole of 2015.
The UN agency has said that increasing numbers of people fleeing war and persecution are taking the more hazardous route from Libya to Italy, after the much-criticised deal between the European Union and Turkey largely closed off the Eastern Mediterranean route earlier this year.
— UNHCRNews (@RefugeesMedia) October 26, 2016
Refugee Council Head of Advocacy Lisa Doyle said: “This is a tragic and shameful reminder of the failure of European countries to respond humanely to the refugee crisis. Each one of those 3,800 people is a man, women or child.
“Appallingly, European governments have responded to the greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War by building their walls ever higher, leaving refugees with no choice but to put their lives into the hands of people smugglers as they seek safety.
“The UK Government should be leading by example by expanding safe and legal routes for refugees to find protection, including by making it easier for families who have been torn apart to be reunited. Unless our political leaders act urgently, people will continue to take desperate, fatal risks.”
The Refugee Council continues to call on the Prime Minister to allow more refugees to find protection in the UK through safe and legal routes by:
- Expanding the UK’s Refugee Family Reunion rules
- Making a long term commitment to refugee resettlement beyond 2020
- Introducing humanitarian visas so that people don’t have to make dangerous journeys to the UK in order to apply for asylum