Mediterranean statistics update
Themes: Humanitarian Emergencies, Missing Migrants
Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 102,611 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2018 through 11 November, including 49,912 to Spain, the region’s most active destination point this year, with just under 49 per cent of all 2018 arrivals. This marks the fifth straight year arrivals of irregular migrants and refugees have topped the 100,000 benchmark – although in all previous years that arrival threshold was reached earlier in the year.
The 102,611 arrivals through 315 days of 2018 compares with total arrivals reported for 2017 at this same time last year of 156,372, and of 341,215 in 2016. Deaths on the Mediterranean in 2018 now stand at 2,043, compared with 3,001 a year ago, and 4,329 in 2016.
IOM Italy’s Flavio Di Giacomo reported Monday Italian authorities have released data on the nationalities of those arriving by sea from North Africa through the end of October. The largest single sending country continues to be Tunisia, with almost 5,000 arrivals – almost all of whom are thought to be arriving in Italy directly from their own country.
Among the main arrivals coming from Libya are two from the Horn of Africa – Eritreans and Sudanese – and, from West Africa, citizens of Guinea, Mali, Côte d'Ivoire and Nigeria – all of those in numbers considerably below those posted in previous years (see chart below). Pakistan, Algeria and Iraq were also among the leading sender nations.
IOM Libya reported this week that the total number of vulnerable migrants rescued or intercepted at sea by the Libyan Coast Guard through the end of October was 14,377 – or close to the number (14,349) who have agreed to Voluntary Humanitarian Return departures from Libya since the start of the year.
IOM Libya also reported this week that during the last two weeks of October the organization’s staff had been able to assist 1,600 migrants in four different Libyan detention centres, and 93 more at disembarkation points along the Libyan coast.
IOM Spain’s Ana Dodevska reported Monday total arrivals at sea in 2018 have reached 49,912 men, women and children who have been rescued in Western Mediterranean waters through 11 November (see charts below).
The land arrivals to Ceuta and Melillahave remained the same since the last update.
Missing Migrants Project reported three more people died or were lost at sea in the Western Mediterranean. Spanish authorities recovered the bodies of two Moroccans, one of them believed to be a minor, from a boat that reached Spain’s province of Málaga on 10 November. Authorities believe 13 others survived the journey. That same day, the body of a young man washed up on San Amaro beach in Ceuta, Spain’s enclave in North Africa. Initial police investigations indicate he was a resident of Ceuta’s migrant temporary stay centre (known as the “CETI,” Centro de Estancia Temporal de Inmigrantes, or Centre for Temporary Residence of Immigrants), who drowned while attempting to reach the Spanish mainland.
Last week, a boat carrying between 43 and 46 migrants from Morocco capsized off the coast of Cádiz, causing the deaths of at least 21 people. So far, the remains of 18 people have been located at sea or have washed up on the shore of Caños de Meca, with five bodies recovered on 12 November. The Missing Migrants Project team estimates that 55 people have drowned in the Western Mediterranean while attempting to reach Spain since the beginning of the month.
IOM Greece’s Christine Nikolaidou reported on Monday that over this past weekend a four-year-old Iraqi boy lost his life in a car accident in Northern Greece on Friday evening. He was one of more than two dozen migrants in a minivan involved in an accident with a truck on the Egnatia Highway in Vrasna, 80km east of Thessaloniki, Greece. IOM Greece said the youngster was one of four minors in the vehicle, and reported 27 people were injured, including two Iraqis who are believed to be smugglers. According to Greek authorities, migrants being transported were from Somalia, Bangladesh and Iraq.
Further research through the day Monday revealed Friday’s accident was the eighth fatal vehicle accident involving irregular migrants since early March, and the fourth to occur near the town of Kavala, on northern Greece’s main highway linking its second largest city, Thessaloniki, with the Greece-Turkey border. A total of 25 individuals have died this year in such crashes, and 71 injured (see chart below).
Besides Friday’s vehicle accident, there were reports in the Eastern Mediterranean of a boat capsizing in the early hours of 12 November, a boat in which 15 people from Afghanistan (including four women and their children) were trying to reach the Greek island of Lesvos. That vessel reportedly capsized off the coast of Dikili, Turkey. Two Afghan men managed to swim to shore and alert Turkish authorities. A search and rescue operation has been launched and is underway to search for the 13 missing migrants.
IOM analysts say the vast majority of irregular migrants enter northern Greece through the Greek–Turkish borders in Evros, and their initial goal is to go to a big city, mainly to Thessaloniki or Athens. Their next steps – and their ultimate destinations – tend to be at the discretion of the smuggling networks they use. Almost every accident happens after a high-speed car chase with a police vehicle. Sources tell IOM smugglers usually employ underage migrants as drivers, usually youths of 15 to 17 years old. They tell these children that they cannot be arrested because of their age.
Deaths on the European mainland occur at a rate of about two per week, and highway accidents are a common migration hazard. So far this year 90 migrants have died crossing Europe, compared with 97 through all of 2017, 63 in 2016 and 136 in 2015 – a total of 387, with about 20 per cent occurring in Greece (82). Deaths in Greece this year account for more than half of all migrant fatalities on the continent, and half of those deaths occurred in cars (see chart below).
IOM Greece’s Antigoni Avgeropoulou said that from Friday (9 November) to mid-day Monday, the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) reported there were at least seven incidents requiring search and rescue operations off the port of Alexandroupolis and the islands of Lesvos, Samos and Leros. The HCG rescued a total of 242 migrants and transferred them to the respective islands.
Those arrivals – plus others off Chios, Farmakonisi, Symi, Rhodes, Kos – bring to 28,252 the total number of arrivals by sea to Greece through 7 November (see chart below).
Dimitrios Tsagalas of IOM Cyprus reported Monday the arrival over the weekend of 33 irregular migrants entering the Republic at the Ledra Palace location. One was reportedly a Kurd of Iraqi nationality, the rest all Syrians: 14 men, five women and 13 children. With these arrivals, Tsagalas said the total number of migrants or refugees arriving in Cyprus this year now is 729.
One more landing took place on Monday that is not included in the total above. IOM’s Mr. Tsagalas on Tuesday reported another boat was spotted off Cape Greco by the Coast Guard in the Famagusta area Monday afternoon. On board were 12 adult males, one woman and four children, all believed to be of Syrian nationality. With this boat the latest 2018 arrival total is 746.
IOM’s western Balkans team reported on Thursday some 2,537 irregular migrants have been registered in Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the first two weeks of October, seven times more than the 357 registered during the whole October 2017 and close to the overall number of migrants and refugees registered in the respective countries between January and December 2017 (2,272).
IOM reports 74 per cent of migrants were registered in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where, since the beginning of the year, authorities reported 18,628 new irregular migrants – 16 times more than the 1,166 registered in the whole of 2017. Part of the migrants and refugees who arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina did so after spending a certain amount of time in Serbia, Greece and Turkey (see chart below).
However, for a better understanding of the scale of the movement, it would be worth mentioning that total arrivals to Bosnia this year are almost half of the overall land and sea arrivals registered in Greece in the respective period (38,797). According to the available information on nationalities, one third of migrants registered in Bosnia are Pakistani nationals (34%), followed by those from the Islamic Republic of Iran (16%), the Syrian Arab Republic (12%), Iraq (9%) and more than 64 different nationality groups.
In Albania and Montenegro, Syrian nationals comprised the majority (53% and 44% respectively), followed by those who arrived from Pakistan (18% and 12% respectively), Algeria and Iraq (both 8%) in Montenegro, and Iraq (9%) in Albania. The differences in the nationality structure of registered migrants between the three countries are explained by the fact that migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina also enter from Serbia (especially migrants from the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan) and that certain groups of migrants from Montenegro continue not only toward Bosnia and Herzegovina but toward Serbia as well.
Available Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) flow monitoring data for Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia also indicate increased movement of irregular migrants to/through these countries. Between January and 17 October 2018, there were 6,291 newly registered migrants in the reception centres across Serbia. This is a 28 per cent increase compared to the 4,554 registered in the same period last year, and slightly more than the 5,676 registered in the whole of 2017.
More than half of all registered migrants in Serbia as of 30 September declared Pakistani origin (58%), another 12 per cent were from the Islamic Republic of Iran, followed by nine per cent of migrants from Afghanistan, six per cent from Iraq and six per cent of Bangladeshi nationals.
In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, authorities reported the arrival of 2,846 irregular migrants as of 17 October, five times the 547 reported in the whole of 2017. Available information on nationalities, as of end of September, indicates that the Islamic Republic of Iran is the most commonly reported origin country declared by 56 per cent of the registered migrants. Afghan nationals comprise another 11 per cent, Pakistani nationals, 10 per cent and Iraqi, six per cent.
MISSING MIGRANTS PROJECT
Worldwide, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project reported Monday that 3,190 people have died or gone missing on migratory routes across the globe in 2018 (see chart below).
Beyond the Mediterranean this week MMP also reported five migrants were killed on the Iraq-Turkey border, and 16 more were injured in a vehicle accident near Saray, in Turkey’s eastern province of Van. No information regarding the country of origin, sex or age of the deceased was released by Turkish authorities.
Missing Migrants Project data are compiled by IOM staff but come from a variety of sources, some of which are unofficial. To learn more about how data on migrants’ deaths and disappearances are collected, click here.