Death toll of people trying to cross Mediterranean this year passes 'tragic milestone' of 3,000

Immigrant Council of Ireland says Mediterranean will remain a 'graveyard' until EU policies and attitudes change

Mediterranean, travel, immigrant, council, tragic, milestone

A wooden boat used by refugees to leave Libya drifts abandoned after a rescue operation to save migrants on the Mediterranean sea. Image: Santi Palacios / AP/Press Association Images

The death toll in the Mediterranean passing 3,000 people so far this year is being described as a 'tragic milestone'.

Almost 250,000 refugees and migrants are said to have arrived in Europe by sea during the first seven months of 2016.

However, the latest figures from the International Organisation for Migration suggest that 3,034 are missing or dead after attempting to make the perilous Mediterranean crossing.

The first half of the year saw 93 recorded deaths of children - although the Immigrant Council of Ireland says the true number is unknown as most bodies are never recovered.

Brian Killoran, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council, described this year's death toll as 'deplorable' and a 'tragic milestone'.

He observed: “This is the equivalent of a 747 Airliner plunging into the Mediterranean Sea every month this year. If that were happening, there would be global grief and action, yet this milestone is passed silently, and with little reaction from EU governments.

“The Mediterranean has become a graveyard, and will continue to be so unless EU policies and attitudes change," he added. 

Mr Killoran suggests that 'safe and legal routes into Europe' are the only way to help protect refugees and migrants and limit the number of fatalities.