ITALY SPAIN MIGRATION RESCUE, boat.jpg
An undated handout picture made available on 07 June 2016 by the Spanish Army shows migrants after being rescued by Spanish frigate 'Reina Sofia' (Queen Sofia) at sea near Italian coasts, during the Operation 'Sophia', a European Union Naval Force's (EUNAVFOR) mission to prevent loss of life at sea in the Mediterranean Sea.
Photograph: EPA/SPANISH ARMY

This year's death toll for migrants crossing the Mediterranean is close to reaching the 3,000 mark, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Friday in Geneva.

"The 3,000 mark will undoubtedly arrive this year months earlier than in either of the previous two years," said spokesman Joel Millman.

Fatalities had previously reached this level in September in 2014, and in October in 2015.

The IOM said it had recorded 2,977 deaths since January, adding that nearly two dozen additional recovered bodies were en route to Italian ports on Friday.

Most of the deaths this year have taken place since March, at an average rate of 20 a day.

IOM Libya chief Othman Belbeisi said that the Libyan Coastguard has improved its data collection on migrants trying to reach Europe and has shown some success in preventing these dangerous journeys.

But the death toll has climbed as Libya has failed to stem the inflow of refugees and migrants who cross the sea to Italy; most of the deaths this year have happened on this central Mediterranean route.

Since January, 81,000 migrants have arrived by boat in Italy, while 159,000 sailed from Turkey to Greece, according to the IOM.

The European Commission announced Friday that it will award Greece another 82.6 million euros (91 million dollars) in emergency aid to help it cope with the migration crisis.

This includes 24.2 million euros to provide healthcare to migrants and refugees, as well as 58.4 million euros earmarked for shelter, accommodation, catering, healthcare and transport.

Including the new aid, the commission - the EU's executive - has awarded 345 million euros in extra emergency assistance for activities in Greece since the start of 2015.

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