Migrants: over 5,000 died in Med in 2016, UNHCR

SOS Mediterranee's Aquarius ship saved 8,755

17 February, 17:08

    (ANSAmed) - PALERMO, FEBRUARY 17 - At least 5,056 people died in 2016 in the attempt to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea, while 256 died or went missing including 222 on the Central Mediterranean route in the month of January 2017 alone.

    The UNHCR figures were presented in a press conference at the Palermo port one year after the launch of rescue operations at sea of the Aquarius ship from SOS Mediterranee under Valeria Calandra, head of the Italian section of the NGO. The Aquarius rescued 8,755 people and took over 13,000 people onboard in 64 operations at sea. Of those rescued, 83% were male and 17% female. Some 24% were under age 18 and 84% of them were unaccompanied. The Aquarius carried out 14 rescue operations in the first two months of 2017, rescuing 1,628 people. Some 195 were taken onboard and treated by SOS Mediterranee and MSF teams. Aquarius operated with three teams onboard including volunteers and doctors (now from MSF) and the crew. Some 402 minors were rescued, including 324 unaccompanied ones and 14 children under age 5. The vast majority of the refugees were from Sub-Saharan Africa: Eritrea, Sudan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Gambia, Guinea, Ghana, Mali, Ivory Coast and Senegal, but some boats also carried refugees from Bangladesh, Syria, Tunisia, Libya and the Palestinian Territories. SOS Mediterranee on October 13 the 2016 European Citizen Prize from the European Parliament, while on December 15 it was given another prize for work in the civil society sector by the European Economic and Social Committee. (ANSAmed).

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