GENEVA, Nov.29,2017-- For a fourth straight year there were at least 3,000 migrant or refugee deaths on Mediterranean Sea routes through Nov. 26, the UN migration agency International Organization of Migration (IOM) said Tuesday.
IOM spokesperson Joel Millman said at a regular UN briefing that a "grim weekend of death" resulted in the confirmation of at least 3,000 migrant or refugee deaths.
"Today's total of all known and suspected drowning stands at 3,033 through Sunday, Nov. 26, which translates as an average of nearly ten deaths per day since the first of January," he said.
IOM learned over the weekend of at least eight deaths on the Western Mediterranean route linking North Africa to Spain as well of the death of a 10-year-old Afghan boy off the Greek island of Lesbos.
Also, this past weekend, IOM said it learned that at least 31 migrants perished in an incident off Libya's coastal city of Garabulli in a boat capsizing. It is believed that many migrants went missing.
In 2017, however, reaching the number of deaths near the end of November was much later than in the preceding four years.
"In recent years, including 2015, when total irregular traffic by migrants across the Mediterranean surged past one million men, women and children, the 3,000 fatality threshold was breached during the late summer season," said Millman.
IOM director general William Lacy Swing said: "We've been saying this for years and we'll keep on saying it: It's no longer enough to simply count these tragic statistics. We must also act."