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1,600 migrants lost at sea in Mediterranean so far this year
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1,600 migrants lost at sea in Mediterranean so far this year

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Unless Britain acts, the English Channel will become a graveyard for more migrants including young children who embark on the perilous journey for a better life after fleeing wars and poverty across the Middle East and Africa, charities said.

The sinking of a boat with more than 30 people on board this week is the deadliest migration tragedy to date in the English Channel.

Migrant shipwrecks of that scale, however, are not uncommon in the waters surrounding Europe's southern borders.

This year alone, U.N. officials estimate that 1,600 people have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean Sea, the main gateway to Europe for migrants trying to enter the continent with the help of human smugglers.

The death toll is higher than last year, but by no means unique. The International Organization of Migration estimates that 23,000 people have perished since 2014 while trying to cross the Mediterranean in rickety boats or rubber dinghies, peaking at more than 5,000 in 2016. In the same seven-year period, about 166 people have died in the English channel.

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Just last week 85 people died in two separate incidents while trying to reach Italy from Libya, said Flavio di Giacomo, the IOM's spokesman in Italy. Those tragedies barely got noticed in Europe.

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