The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says more than 700 people fleeing war and poverty are believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea in recent days, and survivors claim dozens of children are among those feared dead.
The UNHCR also warned Europe that the death toll will rise further unless more legal ways are opened for asylum seekers in Europe.
The week of shipwrecks and death in the Mediterranean culminated with harrowing testimony from refugees who narrowly survived these tragedies. They said hundreds have drowned including at least 40 children. On Sunday, the UNHCR, the UN's main refugee agency, their stories saying many drowned in three Mediterranean Sea shipwrecks south of Italy.
UNHCR spokesperson Carlotta Sami said thousands had been rescued since Monday, May 23. "Fifteen thousand people have been rescued by the Italian coast guard and by the Italian coast guard and many other assets," she said.
"But from survivors who are still landing in Italy we heard that at least 700 people may have died and gone missing. Several bodies have been recovered out of three ships wrecks that happened on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday," Sami explained.
This article continues at [Radio Vaticana] UN: Over 700 refugees drown In Mediterranean; urges Europe to intervene