Europe's Border Crisis

2016 Is Now Deadliest Year for Migrants in the Mediterranean: UN Agency

FROM OCT. 5: 10,000 Migrants Rescued from Mediterranean in 48 Hours 0:44

This year is the deadliest ever for migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, the U.N. refugee agency announced Wednesday.

A spokesman confirmed that the death toll had reached at least 3,800 during 2016.

The Geneva-based agency had warned Tuesday that this year's total was on the verge of exceeding the 3,771 deaths reported for the whole of 2015.

Migrants fleeing war and poverty take dangerous trips from Libya to Italy on overcrowded boats, hoping to make their way from there to new lives in Europe.

Image: Migrants in the Mediterranean Sea
Migrants wait to be rescued as they drift in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya on Oct. 4. ARIS MESSINIS / AFP - Getty Images

The announcement came as Pope Francis appealed for openness and generosity over immigration as Italy grapples with how to accommodate a growing number of migrants.

The pontiff's comments came the day after residents of an Adriatic coastal town formed a blockade to prevent the arrival of 12 female migrants, one of them pregnant, who were to be housed in a hostel.

Gallery: 10,000 Saved in Two Days While Trying to Reach Europe

In the face of resistance in Goro, officials found lodging elsewhere.

"The growing influx of refugees fleeing war, famine and poverty is a summons to welcome and care for these brothers and sisters," the pope said.