An agency of the United Nations (UN), Interna­tional Organisation on Migration (IOM), has said 128 migrants, comprising Nigerians and other West Africans, died while cross­ing Mediterranean Sea to Europe between March 6 and 26, 2017.
The agency in a state­ment issued by its Spokes­man, Flavio Di Giacomo, said that the number made it 649 deaths recorded in the first 86 days of 2017.
He said that other na­tionals included Gambi­ans, Ivoriens, Ghanaians, Malians, Senegalese and Guineans (both Guinea-Bissau and Conakry).
Di Giacomo explained that 521 deaths were re­corded in the first 65 days of 2017.
He said the number of deaths recorded in the first 86 days of 2017 was higher compared with 566 deaths recorded in the same pe­riod on March 26, 2016.
The IOM chief said that 26,589 migrants and refu­gees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through March 26, with over 80 per cent ar­riving in Italy and the rest in Spain and Greece.
Di Giacomo said the number was, however, lower compared with 163,895 recorded through the first 86 days of 2016.
The Spokesperson ex­plained that 2,320 mi­grants were brought to land between March 23 and 24 in 2017.
He added that anoth­er set of 1,160 migrants which did not include the number above were brought to land on March 25 and 26.
Di Giacomo said Proac­tiva OpenArms, an NGO, retrieved the remains of five migrants from a cap­sized dinghy in addition to a sixth victim it retrieved near the original site of the shipwreck.
According to him, IOM believes the dinghy found by OpenArms is the same one that IOM Libya re­ported was rescued by Libyan fishermen who saved 54 people on 21 March. -The Authority