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Escape to a "maritime grave"

How the world has forgotten!    There was much media coverage last year about those fleeing a variety of Middle Eastern and African countries and risking their lives crossing the Mediterranean.    Many, many didn't make it!       

The problem hasn't gone away.     In fact, the level of drownings has increased this year - as a report, just out, from Médicins Sans Frontières, chronicles....


 Médecins Sans Frontières field coordinator Michele Telaro, together with members of the Bourbon Argos crew, distribute life jackets during the rescue operation in the Mediterranean Sea

"Marking a grim milestone, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has reported that 2016 is the deadliest year ever for migrants trying to reach Europe.

The agency said Wednesday that at least 3,800 migrants—many of them fleeing war in their home countries—have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean Sea this year, despite a significant drop in attempted crossings compared to 2015.
 
"From one death for every 269 arrivals last year, in 2016 the likelihood of dying has spiraled to one in 88," UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler told a press briefing in Geneva on Tuesday, even before the latest reports came in.

Spindler attributed the spike in deaths to factors including bad weather, "a more perilous route," the use of "lower-quality vessels," and smugglers' changing tactics.

Since the European Union-Turkey deal in March to close down pathways to Greece, the Libya to Italy route across the central Mediterranean has become the main route. One per every 47 migrants or refugees attempting the voyage between Libya and Italy is meeting is dying, the UNHCR's Spindler said.

"Smuggling has become a big business, it's being done almost on an industrial scale. So now they send several boats at the same time and that puts rescue services in difficulty because they need to rescue several thousand people on several hundred boats," he said.

"But when you have so many people at sea on boats that are barely seaworthy, then the dangers obviously increase."

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