600 irregular migrants arrive in Malta in first six months - UNHCR
Mediterranean crossings to Italy and Malta exceeded 8,000 in first six months of this year, according to UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards.
Speaking during a press briefing in Geneva, Mr Edwards said the UNHCR estimated that around 8,400 migrants and asylum-seekers landed on the coasts of Italy and Malta - 7,800 of them in Italy. This was nearly double last year’s 4,500 who arrived on Italian and Maltese coasts in the same period last year.
Migrants mostly departed from North Africa, principally Libya (around 6,700 people). The remaining 1,700 crossed from Greece and Turkey, landing in southern Italy’s Apulia and Calabria regions.
Last year, some 15,000 migrants and asylum-seekers reached Italy and Malta - (13,200 and 1,800, respectively) by sea.
UNHCR has recorded some 40 deaths in the first six months of 2013 by people attempting to cross the Mediterranean between North Africa and Italy.
This number was based on interviews conducted with people who reached Europe using boats.
Last year, almost 500 people were reported dead or missing at sea. The decrease in deaths this year is due in part to the efforts of the Italian and Maltese authorities in effectively coordinating rescue at sea.
UNHCR welcomed the on-going efforts by the authorities in Italy, Malta and Libya to rescue boats in distress in the Mediterranean, and calls on all states to continue to fulfil their obligations under international refugee law and law of the sea.