UNHCR urges more effort to assist asylum seekers as boat tragedy death toll tops 300Listen /
Over 310 migrants are now known to have died following last week's boat tragedy off the Italian island of Lampedusa, according to the UN Refugee agency (UNHCR).
156 migrants, most of them Eritreans were rescued at sea in what the agency says is one of the deadliest boat tragedies on record.
UNHCR says it welcomes efforts by the European Commission to prevent such tragedies in future, but says more comprehensive effort is needed to address the situation in countries from which people flee and along asylum routes.
Adrian Edwards is the UNHCR Spokesperson in Geneva.
"Fundamentally, it is important that all available means are used to mitigate the root causes of flight in refugee producing countries. That more information is made available about the hazards of irregular sea movements to Europe; there also needs to be better gathering and sharing of information about the routes and means that people are taking in flight; and there needs to be improved rescue at sea detection and response, and better care arrangements on arrival for people after their disembarkation, including improved facilities in Lampedusa where there is at present serious overcrowding. With the processing of asylum claims, finding lasting solutions for people in need of international protection, and for assisted return s of people not in need of international protection, we believe that wider responsibility-sharing among EU member states could help."
Spokesperson Adrian Edwards says UNHCR stands ready with its NGO partners and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to help all States work towards common solutions to the problems that lie behind last week's accident off Lampedusa.
UNHCR says close to 30,000 migrants reached Italy on boats from North Africa between January and September this year.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.