At least seven people are reported to have perished recently while sailing from Libya to Malta which include five men and two women.
UNHCR says the dead were among a group of 90 migrants who travelled on a boat from Libya across the Mediterranean Sea. The survivors were reportedly exhausted when the boat carrying Somali refugees landed on one of Malta’s most popular beaches.
According to UNHCR, the boat is fourth to have arrived in Malta this year, bringing a total of some 210 people.
Mr. Edwards reports that compared to last year, the number of arrivals in Malta and Italy from North Africa has decreased, with around 2,200 people having arrived in 2012, most in Italy.
The perished Somalis bring the number of reported or confirmed dead among people attempting to reach Europe from the North African nation to 81 this year.
On April 2011, a boat originating in Libya and carrying more than 220 Somalis, Eritreans and Ivorians capsized near the Italian island of Lampedusa.
Since pro-democracy protests erupted across North Africa and the Middle East earlier on 2011, large numbers of people – including people fleeing unrest in Tunisia and Libya – have taken to boats to try to reach Europe.
The seas in front of the Libyan coastline are among the busiest in the Mediterranean, and are even more so now with the large numbers of military and other vessels in the area.
UNHCR reports that more than 1,500 people drowned or went missing while attempting to cross the sea from Africa to reach Europe in 2011.
UNHCR states that the Mediterranean Sea has become the deadliest stretch of water in the world for migrants and refugees.
The UNHCR says 2011 is the deadliest year for the region since UNHCR began recording the statistics in 2006.
Of last year’s arrivals by sea, 56,000 landed in Italy while Malta and Greece received 1,574 and 1,000 respectively. According to the Greek Government, an estimated 55,000 irregular migrants crossed the Greek-Turkish land border.
The Mediterranean Sea is connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land. On the north, it is enclosed by Europe and Asian Turkey, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant. The sea is sometimes considered a part of the Atlantic Ocean, although it is often identified as a completely separate body of water.