From January 1 to May 25 this year, at least 1,475 died making the journey to Europe by sea, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Alarmphone is one of the NGOs trying to help. The transnational network of activist and migrant groups is located on both sides of the Mediterranean and provides a 24-hour hotline for refugees in distress at sea.
"We still see recent fatalities where the exact number of drowned people is not clear because the EU is keeping up its border and visa regime, closing borders and erecting fences," a spokesman from Alarmphone told Al Jazeera. "Although the EU spends a lot of money on the EU border agency Frontex and border controls, they are not willing to spend money on saving refugees' lives," he added. "If only there were legal and safe migration routes, nobody would have to die at sea …In this sense, we say: ferries, not Frontex," said the spokesman.
The EU-Turkey deal, which effectively closed the eastern Mediterranean route, would spur more to find other ways to reach Europe. "Increased border controls and increased militarisation do not solve the bigger problems faced by those people who are forced to move," Niels Frenzen, director of the Immigration Clinic at USC Gould School of Law said. "And the closing of borders, detaining of migrants and asylum seekers, the focus on smugglers and destroying smuggler boats, are tactics that are not humanitarian or legal in nature."