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It is the maritime route with the highest mortality for refugees and migrants in the world, according to the UN.
Spanish rescuers continue on Wednesday the search for 17 disappeared immigrants, two days after finding the bodies of as many people who died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea on boats from North Africa. So far this year the number of migrants killed in that area amounts to 2000, according to the UN.
The Spanish Civil Guard said on Tuesday that, in addition to the bodies of 17 immigrants, it also found 22 survivors yesterday, 13 of them unaccompanied minors, all from North Africa, after their wooden boat hit a reef near the coast, west of the Strait of Gibraltar.
In this sense, the United Nations Agency for Refugees (UNHCR) also reported that migrants and refugees killed in the Mediterranean amount to 2000 so far this year, after the death of 17 people who were heading to Spain, reported the EFE agency.
“For many years the Mediterranean has been the sea route with the highest mortality for refugees and migrants in the world, and we can not accept this,” UN spokesman Charlie Yaxley told a news conference at the UN.
A total of 150,000 asylum-seekers and migrants have been able to reach Europe since the beginning of the year, which indicates that the current level is similar to those registered before 2014 when the great refugee crisis in the Old Continent began. worse since the Second World War.
The UNHCR said that the deaths reveal that the death rate has increased strongly, particularly in the central Mediterranean – between the coast of North Africa and Italy – where half of the deaths have been recorded.
“In September, one in eight migrants who crossed died, which is largely due to the reduction in search and rescue operations,” explained Yaxley.
Some non-governmental organizations for humanitarian purposes have had to interrupt these operations due to logistical and legal restrictions, which is why the search and rescue tasks of shipwreck victims have decreased significantly.
“If the rescue operations of the NGOs stop completely, we are facing the risk of returning to the same dangerous situation that we saw in Italy after the Mare Nostrum naval operation ended in 2015 and hundreds of people died in a single incident near the coast of Lampedusa, “said the spokesman.
The Libyan Coast Guard has assumed the coordination of the search and rescue, but the extension of the maritime area to be monitored (about 160 kilometres) implies that support is required.
In this regard, UNHCR requested that anyone who wants to contribute to it is allowed to do so and recalled that all persons rescued in international waters, that is, beyond the 12 nautical miles of Libyan territorial waters, should not be returned. to Libya, where insecurity prevails.