4,027 migrants have died worldwide so far in 2016: IOM
Migrants raise their arms as they are rescued at sea by the Italian Navy Marina Militare Fulgosi vessel in this image made available Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016. AP photoA total of 4,027 migrants or refugees have died worldwide so far this year, three-quarters of them in the Mediterranean while trying to reach Europe, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Aug. 2.
“IOM reports today that its Missing Migrants Project has totaled 4,027 migrant or refugee deaths thus far in 2016,” read a statement released on the hIOM’s website on Aug. 2.
“At this point last year, Missing Migrants Project tallied 2,991 – which means that already in 2016 the world has witnessed over 1,000 more fatalities than occurred through 2015’s first seven months, a 26 percent increase. In 2014 IOM reported 2,265 migrant or refugee fatalities through the end of July,” it stated.
Deaths in the Mediterranean this year have reached 3,120, according to the IOM. More than three-quarters of migrant deaths recorded thus far in 2016 have occurred in the Mediterranean, the report stated, comparing this figure with 60 percent during the period of January through August 2015.
IOM Libya reported 120 bodies discovered on the beaches of Sabratha in the past 10 days which were not from previously known shipwrecks in the Mediterranean.
The IOM reported that 257,186 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 through July 27, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy, where over 24,000 new arrivals entered during the month of July.
Meanwhile, the Italian coast guard said that some 1,800 migrants were rescued from waters off Libya on Aug. 1, lifting the total picked up to 8,300 over five days, AFP reported.
Vessels from the coast guard, the Italian navy, humanitarian organizations and EU anti-trafficking operation Sophia were involved in 16 operations to save people from 14 inflatable dinghies and two small wooden boats.
The latest rescues will lift to over 94,000 the number of migrants brought to Italian ports this year, roughly in line with the pattern of 2015, according to Flavio Di Giacomo, IOM Rome spokesperson.
Meanwhile, some Christian aid workers working in Greece’s most notorious asylum detention center, Moria, were accused of trying to convert some of the Muslim detainees, who have been held under the terms of the EU-Turkey migration deal, the Guardian reported on its website on Aug. 2.
On at least two occasions in recent months, aid workers from Euro Relief, a Greek charity that became the largest aid group active in Moria after other aid organizations pulled out in protest against the EU-Turkey deal, have distributed conversion forms inside copies of Arabic versions of the St John’s gospel to people held at the Moria detention camp on Lesbos.
The forms, seen by the Guardian, invite asylum-seekers to sign a statement declaring the following: “I know I’m a sinner... I ask Jesus to forgive my sins and grant me eternal life. My desire is to love and obey his word.”
The camp is overseen by the Greek Migration Ministry, but aid groups perform most of the day-to-day management.
Euro Relief said it disapproved of the distribution of conversion materials, but added it could not rule out the possibility that individual aid workers had distributed the booklets themselves.