2016 killer year for migrants

* IOM DG calls for finding creative means to permit safe, legal and secure migration

2016 killer year for migrants

UNITED NATIONS: More migrants were killed crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in 2016 than ever before, according to the United Nations migration agency.

At least 363,348 people crossed the sea mostly to Italy and Greece but 5,079 additional people were either killed or are missing. The UN International Organisation for Migration (IOM) just released its preliminary figures, but they are expected to increase with the addition of fatalities from December.

"The probable addition of several hundred more fatalities recorded in 2016 only deepens the tragedy," IOM Director General (DG) William Lacy Swing said in a statement. He added that Europe's frustration with a seemingly endless cycle of migrant rescue followed by reports of shipwrecks and more drowning will continue unless Governments throughout the region find a way to manage migration comprehensively.

Swing called for finding creative means to permit safe, legal and secure migration which could be done through work visas, family reunification or temporary protected status.

"Instead of doubling down on tactics that do not work, let's use this New Year to try something that's actually new," he stressed.

Meanwhile, IOM on Friday carried out its first aid training course in Libya with rescuers involving migrant lifesaving operation in the Mediterranean Sea. The training, which is part of the Sea and Desert Migration Management for Libyan Authorities to Rescue Migrants (SEA DEMM), was funded by the European Union.

Addressing UNICEF's executive board in November 2016, Pakistan's Ambassador to UN Dr Maleeha Lodhi urged the world community for urgent action to deal with the growing crisis of forced migration. "Half of the world's refugees are children," she pointed out. She also made a plea to the world community to live up to its responsibilities to address desperate situations in which children were the principal victims.

"It is a humanitarian catastrophe in which the suffering of children is unprecedented," added Lodhi. Pakistan's permanent representative also said that the post-2015 agenda of the UN seeks to end extreme poverty, promote prosperity and well-being for the people, besides protecting environment for ourselves and future generations.