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Stop the indifference: Unprecedented numbers making Mediterranean crossings likely to result in more tragic drownings

News and Press Release
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Geneva, 27 June 2016. Reports that the Italian coast guards have rescued another 3,300 people crossing the Mediterranean on Sunday show that numbers of people making the dangerous crossing are likely to keep increasing.

Since Friday, the Italian Red Cross has been providing first line support to over 7,100 migrants in the ports across Italy’s southern regions of Sicily, Calabria, Apulia and Sardinia.

200 volunteers and staff have been delivering essential support including basic health care, providing relief supplies, and transporting people to hospitals and clinics.

These new arrivals bring to almost 220,000 the number of arrivals by sea in the first six months of 2016, based on figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Another 1,600 people are expected to arrive in the next day.

Tragically, many people making the dangerous crossing do not make it to safety. According to IOM, 2,861 people have drowned in the Mediterranean since the beginning of the year.

“As the weather continues to improve, we know that more people will risk their lives on the perilous journey to Europe. Almost 3,000 people have already died in the Mediterranean. We cannot afford to keep waiting for the next tragedy to occur,” said Francesco Rocca, President of the Italian Red Cross.

“This month alone, 372 people have lost their lives at sea. This is 35 times more than in June last year. The scale of this tragedy will continue to increase unless all world leaders focus on providing safe routes for people seeking sanctuary as well as continuing to address the root causes of migration so that these senseless drownings stop.” said Simon Missiri, IFRC regional Director for Europe.

In May 2015, the IFRC launched an emergency appeal to support the Italian Red Cross in addressing the humanitarian needs of migrants who are steadily arriving to southern Italy by sea. Over the past year, the Italian Red Cross has assisted more than 173,000 people at landing points, in accommodation and transit centres, and during transfers across the country.

For further information or interview requests contact:

In Geneva:

Benoit Carpentier, IFRC Team Leader, Public Communications Mobile: +41 79 213 2413 Email: Twitter: @BenoistC

In Rome:

Tommaso Della Longa, Italian Red Cross spokesperson Mobile: +39 340 2413114 Email: Twitter: @TDellaLonga