As French authorities move to bulldoze the Calais refugee camp known as the Jungle, the UNHCR are reporting that at least 3,800 refugees have died in the Mediterranean Sea while trying to reach Europe so far this year.
William Spindler, the spokesman for the Geneva-based agency, announced the grim milestone on Twitter on Wednesday.
“We’re receiving more reports of deaths in the Med,” Spindler tweeted. “We can now confirm that at least 3,800 people have died, making 2016 the deadliest ever.”
In a statement published on the UNHCR’s website, Spindler added: “From one death for every 269 arrivals last year, in 2016 the likelihood of dying has spiralled to one in 88.”
More refugee deaths were reported off the Libyan shore on Wednesday, as the EU’s border and coastguard agency, Frontex, warned that rescue missions near the troubled North African nation were getting ever more dangerous.
The Doctors Without Borders (MSF) charity said one of its latest rescue vessels picked up 25 bodies and 107 survivors from an overcrowded rubber boat, some 48 kilometres off the coast of Libya.
“Sea rescue operations are becoming a race through a maritime graveyard,” the head of MSF migration operations, Stefano Argenziano, said in an online statement.
About half of the 327,800 refugees who crossed the Mediterranean this year did so using the Libya-Italy route, where about one in every 47 people dies.
The UN refugee agency is blaming bad weather, flimsy boats and the fact that refugees are increasingly taking the hazardous central Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy for the rise in the number of deaths,.
A deal between the EU and Turkey largely closed off the eastern route from Middle East to Europe through Turkey earlier this year.
- Pray for the ongoing refugee situation across North Africa and Europe, which shows no signs of abating.
- Pray for protection for those desperate enough to attempt the dangerous sea crossing in flimsy boats, and also for an end to the human trafficking that robs these same people of not only their hard earned money, but also, all too often, their lives.
- Pray for wisdom for authorities trying to deal with the refugees who are desperate for a better life in Europe.
- Pray for open hearts and open doors to resettle refugees, especially Christian refugees who are often overlooked and rejected for resettlement.
- Pray for an end to the crisis and conflicts across the Middle East and Africa that is resulting in so many displaced people. Pray for peace, stability and security for these people to return to their homes and families.
- Pray that many of the refugees will encounter Christ Jesus and come to know His hope, healing, love and grace for them and their families.
Psalm 10 vs 12: “Rise up, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; do not forget the oppressed.”