Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals in 2016 : 160,547; Deaths: 488
Greece - IOM this week confirms more than one million migrant and refugee arrivals to the Greek islands via the Eastern Mediterranean route from Turkey since the start of 2015. Earlier this month IOM confirmed combined land and sea arrivals surpassed the one million mark in Greece.
Over the past four years, IOM reports, 1.4 million migrants and refugees have crossed the Mediterranean via three principle routes linking Europe to North Africa and Turkey. During that same period, IOM has recorded deaths at sea at over 8,100. Most of those deaths have occurred on the Central Mediterranean route linking Italy and North Africa. Nearly one thousand migrants or refugees are believed to have perished on the Eastern Mediterranean route. Hundreds more have drowned attempting the crossing to Europe via Spanish waters.
In 2016, IOM estimates that 147,437 migrants have reached the Greek islands; according to the latest released data of the Hellenic Coast Guard, 71,463 Syrians 37,319 Afghanis, 22,880 Iraqis, 4,449 Pakistanis, 4,249 Iranians have entered Greece.
The total arrivals through March 20, 2016 (22,956 so far) are reduced compared to the arrivals in January and February 2016 when over 125,000 migrants had crossed into Greece.
The Aegean Sea continues to be this year’s most deadly migrant route. On Sunday (19/03) four migrants lost their lives. Two were adult men who had lost consciousness when their boat carrying 70 migrants approached the island of Lesvos. In addition, a boat capsized off Ro Island. The Hellenic Coast Guard undertook a rescue.
Last week the Italian Parliament approved October 3 as a day of “Remembrance and Reception” for migrants who have lost their lives in the Mediterranean Sea and for those who have survived the treacherous journey. The date is the anniversary of the 2013 shipwreck off Lampedusa that left 368 migrants dead.
IOM reports from Italy that about 1,200 migrants arrived by sea to Italy last weekend. Migrants, after having been rescued at sea, were brought to the ports of Lampedusa, Pozzallo, Augusta, Catania and Cagliari. Migrants were travelling on dangerous rubber dinghies that departed from Libya. The majority of them are Western African nationals, Eritreans, Sudanese and Moroccans.
Two migrants were found dead, on two separate vessels, asphyxiated and severely burned by a mixture of seawater and fuel. One was a 21-year-old Nigerian woman, who was travelling with her sister. The migrants who arrived in Lampedusa told IOM staffers that four people on board with them fell into the sea during the crossing and have gone missing. Two were from Conakry, Guinea, and two from Senegal.
According to Libyan sources, a shipwreck occurred off the Libyan coastal areas. Five hundred migrants were rescued by the Libyan Coast Guard, while the number of missing – between nine and 30 – remains unconfirmed.
“This year IOM has registered 13,770 migrants: an increase of over 3,600 arrivals compared to the same period of last year,” said Federico Soda, Director of the IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean.
Soda explained, “For now this increase is not related to the Syrian crisis. Arrivals in Italy are mainly of migrants coming from West African countries and from the Horn of Africa. This year, we have registered the arrivals of only six Syrians in January and February.”
“What is worrying is that many migrants are arriving in very bad health conditions, because of the violence perpetrated by smugglers. It is shocking that we regularly receive reports from migrants that women are being raped by smugglers on the beach, right before departure,” he added.
IOM is present at the landing points and provides legal assistance to migrants arriving by sea, monitors the conditions of reception centres and supports the authorities in the identification of vulnerable groups.
“One of our main activities is to provide information and protection to victims of trafficking: we have registered a stark increase in Nigerian women’s arrivals in 2015 and also in 2016.”
Data gathered by the Ministry of the Interior shows that 5,633 Nigerian women reached Italy by sea in 2015. During the same time period in 2014, arrivals were 1,454. In the first two months of 2016, arrivals have been 395, 346 more than last year in the same period.
“We estimate that 80 percent of these Nigerian girls are victims of trafficking,” explains Soda. “Many of them come from the Edo region, where they are lured into enslavement and exposed to voodoo rituals to psychologically ensnare them to accept their faith, in the belief that any attempt of escaping or rebelling against their traffickers will cause harm to them and their family.”
“IOM’s counter-trafficking work in Italy starts at the disembarkation points with information and legal counselling on the possibility to receive protection as foreseen by Italian legal framework for victim of trafficking,” Soda explains. “This information is provided to groups of people or individually – when conditions allow so – or if the Organization deems it necessary to speak to the migrant in private.”
Since the beginning of its activities, in April 2014, IOM anti-trafficking teams have referred 120 women to the Italian anti-trafficking network or directed to other form of support.
For the latest Mediterranean Update infographic please go to: http://reliefweb.int/node/1449556/
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