Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 10,584 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea through the first nine weeks of 2018, with just over 50 per cent arriving in Italy and the remainder divided between Greece (27%), Spain (22%) and Cyprus (less than 1%). This compares with 19,824 arrivals across the region through the same period last year.
At this time in February 2016 there already were 116,005 arrivals – roughly 100,000 more than at this point this year and last.
IOM Rome’s Flavio Di Giacomo said Monday that, according to Ministry of Interior figures, 5,331 migrants have arrived by sea to Italy this year – or barely one third the figure at this time last year, when 15,759 migrant men, women and children were brought to Italy after being rescued in the waters north of Africa. Through 4 March Italy arrivals are averaging just under 85 persons per day. This compares with 227 per day in 2017 and 153 per day in 2016 (see chart below).
Di Giacomo on Monday reported that the figures above do not include the 72 survivors of a rescue operation that occurred on Saturday. Rescued by a commercial ship, Cypriot merchant vessel MV Everest, off the coast of North Africa, the survivors were transferred to the NGO Ship Aquarius which landed Tuesday (6 March) in Pozzallo.
Details of the incident are not complete, but it is feared that besides the 72 survivors an equal number of victims may have been lost. IOM expects to learn more after those survivors – believed to be all sub-Saharan Africans – are brought ashore on Tuesday.
Di Giacomo explained that among the 72 survivors there were 42 rescued from a boat, plus another 30 said to have been brought back to Libya by the Libyan Coast Guard and who are considered survivors of a shipwreck, the details of which IOM still does not have. Initial reports are that at least 21 migrants are thought to be missing, although there remains a question as to whether any of the survivors were rescued by Libyans.
"We know there are survivors of a shipwreck. But it seems very strange that the number of missing is only 21," Di Giacomo said Tuesday morning. "We hope there are no more than 21 missing, but we fear that the death toll could be higher. We will know how many more when we gather survivors’ testimonies directly."
IOM’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP) reported Monday that deaths on the Central Mediterranean route – 316 as of 2 March – were down almost 30 per cent below their total at this same time in 2017, when 442 migrants had been counted as drowned or missing in the waters between North Africa and Italy. Moreover, the MMP Project had recorded only a single death, on 19 February this year, after a shipwreck took dozens of victims on 2 February.
IOM Athens’ Kelly Namia on Monday said that over four days ending 3 March, the Hellenic Coast Guard reported there were at least three incidents requiring search and rescue operations off the islands of Farmakonisi and Samos. The Coast Guard rescued 152 migrants and transferred them to those respective islands.
Those rescued, plus another 103 arriving on Samos brings the total number of sea arrivals to Greek territory through 3 March February to 2,908 (see chart below) – an average of 47 persons per day.
IOM Spain’s Ana Dodevska reported that total arrivals by sea in 2018 have reached 2,308 men, women and children who have been rescued in Western Mediterranean waters through 4 March.
Through nine weeks on the Mediterranean, 421 migrants are estimated to have died in 2018, compared with 521 at this time last year. Most recently, three deaths were recorded on the Western Mediterranean route between North Africa and Spain. On 3 March, two women died and one person went missing off the coast of Benzú, in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta.
This year, 105 people have died in the Mediterranean when trying to reach Spain.
Worldwide, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has recorded 684 migrant fatalities in 2018, compared with 1,000 at this time last year (see chart below).
Besides those lost on the Mediterranean, MMP recorded several deaths in Mexico. One man was hit by a train near Monterrey, Mexico on 19 February, while on 23 February a young Honduran migrant was shot by armed robbers near Tenosique, Tabasco, close to the border with Guatemala.
Additionally, MMP received data this week from the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner in Arizona, USA for January and February: the remains of 13 migrants who lost their lives crossing the US/Mexico border were recovered at different locations in Pima County in the first two months of 2018.
MMP 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 missing migrants are collected, click here.
Latest Mediterranean Update infographic: http://migration.iom.int/docs/MMP/120118_Mediterranean_Update.pdf
For latest arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean, please visit: http://migration.iom.int/europe
Learn more about the Missing Migrants Project at: http://missingmigrants.iom.int