NEW YORK, 1st June, 2016 (WAM) — The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, has announced that a series of shipwrecks and capsisings last week on the Mediterranean now appears to have claimed at least 880 lives.

In a statement, the UNHCR said, “We have received information from people who landed in Augusta in Sicily over the weekend that 47 people were missing after a raft carrying 125 people from Libya deflated. Eight others were reported separately to have been lost overboard from another boat, and four deaths were reported after fire aboard another.”

Thus far 2016 is proving to be particularly deadly. Some 2,510 lives have been lost so far compared to 1,855 in the same period in 2015 and 57 in the first five months of 2014. On a Mediterranean-wide basis, the odds of being among the dead are currently one in 81. This highlights the importance of rescue operations as part of the response to the movement of refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean, and the need for real, safer alternatives for people needing international protection.

So far this year, 203,981 people have made the journey. Almost three-quarters of these travelled from Turkey to Greece prior to the end of March. Some 46,714 of these have travelled to Italy, almost the same as the total recorded there in the first five months of 2015 (47,463).