The UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) has reported that about 45,000 immigrants, most of them Syrians and some Palestinians, have risked their lives in the Mediterranean to escape from the region's "repressive regimes".
José Angel Oropeza, Director of IOM's Coordinating Office for the Mediterranean in Rome said, "This year migration towards Italy's southern shores tells that there has been an increase in the number of people escaping from war and oppressive regimes."
"Most of the migrants came from Syria (11,300), Eritrea (9,800) and Somalia (3,200). All of them were effectively forced to leave their countries and they have the right to receive protection under the Italian law," he notes.
"The real emergency in the Mediterranean is represented by those migrants who continue to lose their lives at sea. They disappear and their loss simply remains unknown. The identification of the bodies is still a humanitarian issue to be resolved. Numerous relatives of the victims are still waiting to know if their loved ones are among the bodies collected after October's shipwrecks," says Oropeza.
According to statistics from the IOM, more than 20,000 people were killed during the past 20 years in their attempt to reach the Italian coast, including about 700 people in 2013.
"We have become too used to seeing these people who are escaping from war, persecution, poverty and hunger as mere statistics. We urgently need to find ways to stop these people from dying at sea when all they are trying to do is to achieve a better life. We need to find ways to make migration safe and to give these people real choices," says Oropeza.