The Spanish city of Barcelona unveiled a large digital “shame counter” Thursday that tracks the number of refugees and migrants who die while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea.
The large metal rectangular pillar is located near one of the city’s popular beaches and comes with a digital counter, placed above the inscription: “This isn't just a number, these are people.” The figure stood at 3,034 at the time of the inauguration, indicating the number of people who died while trying to cross the sea on their way into Europe in 2016. The figures were provided by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
“We are inaugurating this shame counter which will update all known victims who drowned in the Mediterranean in real time,” said Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, according to Agence France Presse.
“We’re here to look the Mediterranean in the face and look at this number — 3,034 people who drowned because they were not offered a safe passage,” said Colau.
Syrians fleeing their country’s ongoing civil war made the largest group of refugees, followed by Afghans and Iraqis.
The number of fatalities this year has been higher than during the same period in 2015, according to IOM data. A reason for this increase in death toll was a series of shipwrecks involving larger vessels — carrying several hundred people — instead of the more commonly found dinghies which have smaller capacities — a maximum of 100 people.
An Oxfam report released earlier this month showed that the six wealthiest countries in the world — accounting for at least 60 percent of the global economy — took on the responsibility to host less than 9 percent of the world’s refugees. Relatively poorer countries like Jordan, Turkey, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Pakistan, Lebanon and South Africa accepted the majority of the refugees, according to the report.