Koji Sekimizu, secretary-general of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) said that number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean could surge to 500,000 this year with thousands of deaths at sea if no action is taken against the people who traffic them, says a report by AFP.
"If we do nothing, we will see half a million of migrants crossing over the Mediterranean and we will see probably 10,000 of deaths if that is the case," Sekimizu warned.
"This is a very serious issue," Sekimizu said in an address at Sea Asia, a major maritime conference and exhibition in Singapore, noting, "It is time to really think about how to stop the very dangerous and unsafe passage of migrants on board small and very unsafe boats."
He said his office was working with other UN agencies to establish a database of the people smugglers as an initial step to target them, but would not give any more details.
In the latest incident concerning migrants in the Mediterranean, some 800 people lost their lives on Sunday when a boat packed with migrants capsized about 60 miles (96 kilometers) off the Libyan coast and 120 miles (193 kilometers) south of the Italian island of Lampedusa on its way to Europe.