By Fatih Erel
DAVOS (AA) - The UN migration agency at World Economic Forum in Davos urged top political leaders to take actions in a bid to stop migrant deaths in Mediterranean.
More than 200 migrant deaths were recorded in the Mediterranean in January 2018 so far, according to International Organization for Migration (IOM).
"It is an ongoing tragedy. We have already lost a couple of hundred people in January alone," William Lacy Swing, IOM’s director general, told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview in Davos.
Swing also called on participants in Davos from private sector to provide jobs to migrants.
Earlier this month, the UN had warned about a deadly beginning of the year for migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea and appealed for more resettlement places and other safe alternatives to protect them.
Noting that the issues of migrants have been widely discussed in Davos compared to recent years, Swing said there would be six events in Davos on migration.
Over 3,000 participants from more than 110 countries and more than 340 public figures are attending the forum, for which security is expected to cost nearly $10 million.
The heads of states included 10 from Africa, nine from the Middle East and North Africa, six from Latin America and 40 Western leaders.
"I appreciated very much that Turkey is the world largest refugee hosting country. You have more than 3 million refugees in Turkey. We are working very closely with Turkish government," Swing said.
"We have one of the largest operations in Ankara, Istanbul, Gaziantep and a couple of other places. So, we very much appreciate that," he said.
- Rohingya crisis
The UN on Tuesday urged Myanmar to allow unhindered humanitarian access in Rakhine State and provide necessary safeguards for Rohingya Muslims to return to Myanmar.
Noting that there are now 850,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, Swing said the safe return of these refugees should begin now.
"What we are hoping that...if they go back it has to be under conditions that are safe, dignified and fully supported by the authorities," Swing said.
"They are probably most vulnerable people in the world," he added.
More than 650,000 refugees, mostly children and women, have fled Myanmar since Aug. 25, 2017, when Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community, according to the UN.
At least 9,000 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine state from Aug. 25 to Sept. 24, according to Doctors Without Borders.
In a report published on Dec. 12, 2017, the global humanitarian organization said the deaths of 71.7 percent or 6,700 Rohingya were caused by violence. They include 730 children below the age of 5.
The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.