“Every person seeking a better life deserves security and dignity,” United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said. “We need safe, legal roads for migrants and refugees.”

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNCHR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in a joint statement expressed condolences to the victims and urged countries to increase resources and capacity in order to effectively fulfill their responsibilities.

The death toll may rise

As of Sunday evening, 45 lifeless bodies had been recovered, but ongoing search and rescue teams fears the death toll could get worse, the agencies said. News reports said a newborn and small children were among the dead.

Reports suggest so at least 170 people were on board the small ship, incl children and families. The UN refugee agency said information received indicates there may be as many as 80 survivors. Some of them have been hospitalized for treatment.

“Unacceptable Horrors”

“It is unacceptable to witness such horrors, with families and children entrusted to seaworthy boats,” says Chiara Cardoletti, UNHCR representative for Italy, the Holy See and San Marino. “This tragedy must compel us to act and act now.”

The boat had left Turkey, with many passengers coming from Afghanistan and Pakistan. By 2022, people from Turkey accounted for about 15 percent of total sea arrivals in Italy, UNHCR said, noting that almost half of the people arriving along this route were people fleeing Afghanistan.

“Insufficient” rescue capacity

Authorities said the European Union’s mechanisms for rescue operations were “urgently needed”.

To avoid tragedies like this, Cardoletti said, it is “more necessary than ever before to strengthen the rescue capacitywhich is still insufficient”.

Laurence Hart, head of the IOM Mediterranean Coordination Office, said this shipwreck shows how the phenomenon migration at sea must be managed of all European nations.

New approach is needed

This requires humanitarian aid and adopt an approach that takes into account the many driving forces which is causing people to fleeShe said.

The IOM Missing Migrants Project reports that at least 220 peopleincluding those who perished on Sunday, have dead or disappeared together the center Mediterranean routeyear 2023.