6 people die every day trying to cross Med in 2018: UN

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Thousands of people died or went missing crossing the Mediterranean to reach European shores in 2018, the U.N. refugee agency said on Wednesday.

Six people died every day while attempting to cross the Mediterranean in 2018, according to a UN report on Wednesday.

In the latest report titled "Desperate Journeys," UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said: "An estimated 2,275 people died or went missing crossing the Mediterranean in 2018, despite a major drop in the number of arrivals reaching European shores.

"In total, 139,300 refugees and migrants arrived in Europe, the lowest number in five years," it said.

The report also pointed out significant changes in the routes being used by refugees and migrants.

"For the first time in recent years, Spain became the primary entry point to Europe as around 8,000 arrived by land (through the enclaves in Ceuta and Melilla) and a further 54,800 people successfully crossed over the perilous western Mediterranean.

"As a result, the death toll for the western Mediterranean nearly quadrupled from 202 in 2017 to 777. Some 23,400 refugees and migrants arrived in Italy in 2018, a fivefold decrease compared to the previous year," it said.

Greece saw around threefold increase in the number of people arriving via its land border with Turkey, the report added.

According to the agency, the country received some 32,500 people compared to 30,000 in 2017.

"Saving lives at sea is not a choice, nor a matter of politics, but an age-old obligation," Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said in the report.

"We can put an end to these tragedies by having the courage and vision to look beyond the next boat, and adopt a long-term approach based on regional cooperation, that places human life and dignity at its core," he said.

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