Refugees wait to disembark from a ship on October 24, 2016, in Palermo, Italy. (Photo by AFP)
More than 5,200 refugees have died across the world since the beginning of 2016, says the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The organization, which is based in Geneva, said on Friday that of a total of 5,238 deaths, 3,930 people died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea by boat, indicating a 170-person increase compared to 2015.
On Wednesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) made a different account with more than 3,800 deaths in the Mediterranean since January, also noting that it was a new record compared to 2015.
Over 280 asylum seekers trying to reach the European Union
died off the Libyan shores recently, according to the IOM.
said on Thursday it had begun training the Libyan coast guard how to curb the influx of asylum seekers.
“Today we are starting the training of the Libyan coast guard in Operation Sophia which is a very important step,” said the EU foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, as she arrived for a meeting with NATO
defense ministers in Brussels.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Western military alliance had just launched its own Operation Sea Guardian in the Mediterranean to help support Operation Sophia.
The EU launched Operation Sophia last year after hundreds of asylum seekers died when their rickety boats sank off southern Italy.
The central Mediterranean route has seen more asylum seekers risk their lives in recent months after the EU reached an accord with Turkey in March to halt an influx of refugees crossing the Aegean to reach Europe
Stoltenberg further said within two weeks ships and aircraft would be provided by NATO allies to help back up Operation Sophia.