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    Refugees and migrants massed onto an inflatable boat reach Mytilene, northern island of Lesbos, after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey on February 17, 2016

    Over 340 Children Drowned in East Mediterranean Since September 2015

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    At least 340 children, many of them babies and toddlers, drowned in the eastern Mediterranean trying to reach Europe, according to the UN Children's Emergency Fund and the International Organization for Migration.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Over 340 children have died in the eastern Mediterranean Sea since last September, as their families attempted the perilous journey to seek asylum in Europe, UN agencies said Friday.

    "Since last September… more than 340 children, many of them babies and toddlers, have drowned in the eastern Mediterranean. The total number of children who have died may be even greater, the agencies say, their bodies lost at sea," the UN Refugee Agency, the UN Children's Emergency Fund and the International Organization for Migration said in a joint statement.

    According to the agencies, children account for 36 percent of those crossing the sea.

    The European Union is currently struggling to manage an enormous refugee crisis, with hundreds of thousands of people fleeing conflict-torn countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The EU border agency Frontex recorded more than 1.8 million illegal border crossings into the European Union in 2015. More than 3,770 deaths of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea were recorded in 2015, IOM said.

    According to IOM, over 110 refugees have died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea since the beginning of 2016, making it the deadliest January on record.

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    Tags:
    refugees, children, International Organization of Migration (IOM), UN Children's Emergency Fund, Mediterranean Sea
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