With over two months to go till the end of the year, 2016 is already the deadliest year on record for the number of deaths among migrants in the Mediterranean. As of Oct. 27, 3,930 migrants and refugees died while crossing the Mediterranean, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. That is 160 more deaths than in all of 2015.
This is not new: since 2014, when Mediterranean migrant crisis began every year has been deadlier than the last. In 2014, 3,500 migrants died crossing from Africa and the Middle East into Europe—nearly six times as many as the previous year. This year there has been a significant reduction in the number of people attempting the crossing—about 331,000 over the first nine months of 2016, compared to over a million in all of 2015. But there has been an increase in the number of people attempting to cross on the Central Mediterranean route, between Libya and Sicily.
Because of its length, the currents, and the way smugglers operate in Libya, crossing the strait of Sicily is increasingly perilous, and one in 47 migrants who take it die. In 2015 less than 154,000 migrants crossed into Europe on that route. This year so far nearly 157,000 have crossed. The shift is in part because the safer route from Turkey to Greece has been shut down, last year 850,000 people crossed it.