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18 missing migrants headed to Europe presumed dead

Eighteen migrants from Africa and the Middle East attempting to reach Europe disappeared this week and are presumed dead, the International Organization for Migration said Friday.

More than 3,200 such migrants have died trying to reach Europe this year alone, prompting Pope Francis earlier this week to call for action to keep the Mediterranean from becoming “a vast cemetery”.

“IOM’s team providing assistance to migrants arriving in Europe by sea from north Africa and the Middle East recorded another 18 migrants reported missing, and presumed dead this week,” the IOM said in a statement.

The reports on the latest disappearances came from fellow passengers rescued by commercial and military vessels patrolling increasingly wintery and dangerous Mediterranean routes, the IOM said.

Over 5,100 migrants have arrived in Italy by sea in the last 10 days, rescued by ships in the Strait of Sicily, according to the IOM.