At least 880 migrants have died in the Mediterranean Sea over the past week, the United Nations refugee agency said Tuesday.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates 2,510 migrants have died in the Mediterranean so far this year. That is 35 percent higher than the 1,855 deaths that occurred in same time period last year.
Many of the deaths in the past week are attributed to boats leaving a town near Tripoli, Libya, making their way to Italy, the UN report said.
A report from the International Organization for Migration, also released Tuesday, indicated that when missing persons are included, the number tops 1,000.
“The past eight days marks one of the deadliest periods yet in the migration crisis, which is now in its fourth year,” the IOM report said.
On the Africa-Italy route, IOM reported, smugglers use bigger wooden boats that can carry more passengers than the rubber boats used on the route from Turkey to Greece.
“Smugglers put over 700 migrants in the wooden boats, whereas the rubber ones generally carry only 100 to 120 people,” said Federico Soda, director of the IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean in Rome. “This also explains the increase in the number of migrants dead or missing: One accident can result in hundreds of fatalities.”
The European Union recently struck a deal with Turkey to stop migrants from traveling to Greece. Migrant advocates expressed concerned the deal would force people to instead travel the longer, more dangerous route from North Africa.
According to UNHCR’s numbers, there hasn’t been a shift yet. About 46,700 boats have traveled to Italy this year, which is approximately the same number as in 2015.