Some 17 people have been found dead this week off the Spanish coast, meaning that the number of lives lost on the Mediterranean this year has now exceeded 2,000. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has called repeatedly for urgent action to address this situation. The Mediterranean has for several years been the world’s deadliest sea route for refugees and migrants. That it continues to be so, should be unacceptable to all.
Around 100,000 asylum seekers and migrants have reached Europe so far this year, representing a return to pre-2014 levels. However, the 2,000 drownings mean that the rate of deaths, particularly in the Central Mediterranean, has escalated sharply. In September, one life was lost for every eight people who crossed. This was in large part due to substantially reduced search and rescue capacity.
Refugees and migrants disembark the Salvamar Hamal Spanish Coast Guard vessel in the port of Malaga, Spain, September 2018. © UNHCR/Markel Redondo