Migrant deaths from boat accidents in Mediterranean increaseListen /
The number of people fleeing their homeland who have died in boat accidents in the Mediterranean Sea has increased this year, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
The agency says that people, including those fleeing violence and persecution, are once again risking their lives by using smugglers' boats to cross the sea from Libya to Italy.
In the latest incident on Monday, at least 17 people drowned after a boat sank in international waters some 160 kilometres south of the Italian island of Lampedusa.
UNHCR Spokesperson Adrian Edwards said the dead included 12 women, three children and two men.
"Two merchant ships from France and Vanuatu rescued 226 people who later received medical checks by Italian doctors transferred by the Italian navy. The French vessel Bourbon Arcadia rescued 158 people and the Kehoe Tide from Vanuatu rescued 68 people. Yesterday's tragedy is only the latest of several in recent weeks. Over the past fortnight 121 people have died in three separate boat accidents." (27")
The UN Refugee Agency said it was dismayed at the rising deaths from boat accidents in the Mediterranean Sea.
Daniel Dickinson, United Nations.