Refugee deaths rise as Europe hardens stance

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Refugees rescued from the Mediterranean. Lampedusa, August 30.

Despite the public outcry over the death of three-year-old asylum seeker from Syria, Alan Kurdi, in the Mediterranean last year, Oxfam said refugee deaths have risen since then.

World refugee deaths over the past year have risen by more than one-fifth, according to international charity Oxfam.

The alarming rise comes as Europe tightens its borders, and one year after the world was shocked by the image of Kurdi washed up on a Mediterranean beach.

Oxfam said on September 2 that, around the world, 5700 refugees had died while trying to flee to other countries since September last year. Since the start of the year, on average one refugee died about every 80 minutes.

Most refugee deaths were from people drowning in the Mediterranean Sea hoping to enter Europe, according to numbers from the International Organisation for Migration.

Significant refugee deaths also happened as a result of people attempting to cross the Sahara Desert, drownings in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, where thousands are fleeing Myanmar and other parts of Southeast Asia. Many others died travelling on train tops in Mexico.

Despite the rising death tolls for refugees, Europe is increasingly hardening its border policy. On September 1, France announced it will close the “Jungle” refugee camp in Calais, a major stop for refugees hoping to enter Britain.

Refugee charities estimate that the Calais Jungle currently holds about 10,000 people. Critics say the plan will only create more problems and higher refugee numbers.

Germany and Italy have also recently announced tougher measures towards refugees, as they agreed to increase efforts to send refugees with no asylum rights back to their countries of origin.

[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]

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