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More than 3,000 migrants lost in Mediterranean in 2016: IOM

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GENEVA: More than 3,000 migrants and refugees have died while trying to cross the Mediterranean this year, while nearly 250,000 have made the perilous journey to Europe, the International Organization for Migration said Tuesday.

“The latest discovery of 39 bodies washed up on Libyan shores this week bring the number of casualties to over 3,034 among the migrants and refugees who attempted to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe in 2016,” the IOM said.

An IOM statement said this year’s fatality rate was “significantly higher” than in the same period last year, with 1,917 migrants having perished in the Mediterranean as of late July 2015.

One reason for the higher death toll this year is that there have been a series of shipwrecks involving larger vessels carrying several hundred people rather than the more typical dinghies that carry a maximum of 100 migrants.

“Despite the constant and increased patrolling of the Mediterranean, it has proved extremely difficult to reduce the number of victims,” IOM spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo said in the statement.

The total number of arrivals to Europe this year was also slightly above the 2015 rate.

Syrians fleeing the country’s brutal civil war again made up the largest group to have risked their lives to make the dangerous sea crossing.

Afghans were next on the list, followed by Iraqis.

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