World Briefs: Migrant death toll rises to record high

Migrant death toll rises to record high

GENEVA • A record 5,000 migrants are now believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea this year, following two shipwrecks on Thursday in which some 100 are feared dead.

Two overcrowded dinghies capsized in the Strait of Sicily between Italy and Libya, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the UN refugee agency UNHCR said yesterday.

"Those two incidents together appear to be the numbers that would bring this year's total to 5,000 (deaths), which is a new high in this crisis," IOM spokesman Joel Millman told a Geneva briefing.

Some 3,777 migrants perished at sea during all of 2015, the IOM said.


US scraps foreign visitor registry

WASHINGTON • The US government is cancelling an inactive registry programme for visitors from countries where extremist groups are operating.

It had concluded that the programme was redundant and inefficient, and did not provide increased security.

The Department of Homeland Security is formally ending the National Security Entry-Exit Registration Systems programme, known as NSEERS, by removing outdated regulations, spokesman Neema Hakim said on Thursday.

The rule change was to be published in the Federal Register yesterday and would take effect immediately.


Iran shoots down state media outlet's drone

TEHERAN • A drone operated by Iranian state television was shot down over Teheran while filming Friday prayers, after apparently violating a "no-fly zone", local media reported.

The ISNA news agency said the craft was destroyed by "anti-air defence" after it flew over Enghelab Square in the centre of Iran's capital.

According to the news report, the drone "didn't respect the no-fly zone" around the square, which is near the offices of Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and several state institutions.

The report did not say where the drone crashed after being shot down or whether its downing had caused any damage or injuries.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2016, with the headline 'World Briefs'. Print Edition | Subscribe