UN chief urges global action after migrant shipwreck

NEW YORK CITY (AFP) - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon urged the international community to take steps to avoid future migrant boat tragedies like the one that killed 31 off Malta, his spokesman said on Saturday.

Mr Ban "is deeply saddened to hear reports of the loss of lives as another boat carrying migrants capsized yesterday", Mr Martin Nesirky said, also citing a separate "tragic incident" near Lampedusa days earlier.

The UN chief called on the international community "to take action to prevent such tragedies in the future", he said. He urged "measures that address their root causes" and ones that place "the vulnerability and human rights of migrants at the centre of the response".

Most of the victims of the boat that capsized south of Malta Friday were Syrian. Last week, another boat overturned near Lampedusa, Italy, killing 359 of the 545 people on board, mainly from Eritrea.