Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals in 2016: 177, 207; Deaths: 732
Greece - IOM reports that an estimated 177,207 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea in 2016, arriving in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain, through April 13.
Some 5,664 have arrived in the past three days since IOM last reported arrival figures on Tuesday, with another 357 arriving in Messina, Italy, earlier today (15 April). Those migrants reportedly were rescued at sea from voyages leaving Egypt this week.
Virtually all of this week’s arrivals came to Italy and took the Central Mediterranean route from North Africa. Over 4,100 migrants were rescued in the Channel of Sicily by various vessels over a 48-hour period starting Monday night. Nine migrants drowned.
IOM Rome’s Flavio Di Giacomo reported Thursday that among the hundreds of migrants brought Wednesday to the Italian port at Augusta were witnesses who said that during their sea crossing the engine of their dinghy exploded: six migrants fell into the water, and two drowned. Seven others died in waters off Tunisia.
Rescue operations were carried out by the Italian Coast Guard, the Italian Navy, the Italian “Guardia di Finanza”, and a number of vessels from other countries, including the Norwegian “Siem Pilot”, the German navy’s “Frankfurt” and some commercial vessels.
Migrants were been brought to the ports of Lampedusa, Augusta, Pozzallo, Messina, Catania, Palermo (Sicily), Reggio Calabria (Calabria), and Cagliari (Sardinia).
“IOM staff have met many of the migrants and established that the departure point for all of them was Libya. Many of them were from sub-Saharan Africa, and we have noticed an increase in numbers from the Horn of Africa, particularly Eritreans,” said the Director of IOM’s Coordination Office for the Mediterranean in Rome, Federico Soda.
The majority of migrants were travelling on rubber dinghies carrying up to 130 migrants, though some were rescued from wooden boats. As of today, 24,083 migrants have been rescued in the Channel of Sicily and brought to Italy in 2016. The estimated number of missing migrants is 352.
“For the time being it is not possible to link the increase of arrivals in the central Mediterranean to the EU/Turkey deal or the closure of the Balkan routes. The majority of migrants arriving from Libya are African nationals, using well known and established routes into Libya. There have been very few Syrians leaving from Libya in recent months,” said Soda.
In contrast with the rising tide of arrivals to Italy, Greece has seen a sharp fall in the number of migrants and refugee arrivals. They totalled 429 men, women and children over the past seven days (April 8 - April 14). IOM calculates this was less than a third the daily average over 2016’s first hundred days in January, February and March (see chart, below).
IOM also sees a significant drop when comparing arrivals from the first half March (19,323) with the first half of this month: 1,903 – a decline of 90 percent. This week 80 arrived Monday; 98 on Tuesday; 28 on Wednesday; 48 on Thursday.
According to Greek authorities, in 2016 a total of 153,362 migrants and refugees have reached the country via its maritime borders. The majority (53 percent) arrived on the island of Lesbos. Another 30 percent crossed to Chios, 9 percent to Samos, 3 percent to Megisti, 2 percent to Kos and the remaining 3 percent to other islands.
During the same period, IOM notes that 1,165 migrants crossed into Greece through its land borders with Turkey.
With overall arrivals of March running at under half the total recorded in February 2016, IOM estimates that 42 percent of the newly arrived migrants and refugees are adult men, 37 percent children and 21 percent adult women.
The closure of Balkan borders has resulted in a concentration of migrants and refugees on the Greek mainland, with more than 53,000 people now reported to be stranded. The highest numbers – 32,000 - are in Macedonia and Thrace in northern Greece. Another 15,000 are in and around Athens in Attica.
An estimated that 60 percent of them are from Syria and Iraq. Syrians and Iraqis are eligible for relocation and 581 have already been moved to other EU Member states. Another 30 percent are from Afghanistan. The remaining 10 percent are other nationalities, including Iranians and Pakistanis.
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