This has been a grim year for migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea into Europe. The United Nations says a record 5,000 migrants have drowned, mostly on the Libya-to-Italy route.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) figures show that 358,403 people entered Europe by Sea in 2016, most of who arrived in Greece and Italy. The number of migrants entering Europe by sea has decreased this year. Even so this makes 2016 the deadliest year on record. An average of 14 people have died every day in the Mediterranean Sea during 2016.
Last year when a million people crossed the Mediterranean, 3,771 causalities were recorded. That figure was surpassed in October when the death toll hit 3,800. Following two shipwrecks last week of the Italian coast, in which 100 mostly West African migrants perished, the death toll has now reached 5,000.
This is a terrible milestone. These are innocent men, women and children who have lost their lives seeking a better life in Europe. Their deaths should be a wake-up call for European leaders to take decisive action. Yet, EU states continue to militarise Europe's borders, and maintain a policy that lets migrants die as a way of deterring others from coming.
Several EU states have focused on closing their external borders. Hungary has promised to build a new fence along its southern border, which will add to its 500km razor-wire fence it built last year on its border with Croatia and Serbia. Meanwhile, Austria has closed its border to almost all asylum seekers.
Migration has in recent years become a huge issue for voters across Europe, and has driven many into the arms of populist right wing parties.
The EU may be facing a myriad of problems, but it still remains the largest economy in the world. It can and should do more to avoid these unnecessary deaths. Migrants come to Europe in part because of the freedoms we enjoy. This is what inspires so many migrants to risk their lives in search of a European dream.
This year the migrant crisis has rarely hit the headlines and it has slipped from the public view, but it has not disappeared. Italy has received record numbers this year and is struggling to cope with the influx of migrants reaching its shores. This year marks not just the worst annual death toll ever recorded in the Mediterranean Sea, but also the year in which Europe stopped caring.