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Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 89,997 in 2019; Deaths Reach 1,090

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Geneva – IOM reports that 89,997 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea through 6 November, roughly an 11 per cent decrease from the 101,185 arriving during the same period last year.

Arrivals this year to Greece and Spain are at 48,804 and 22,339, respectively, (71,143 combined) accounting for about 79 per cent of the regional total, with the balance arriving in much smaller numbers to Italy, Malta and Cyprus. Arrivals to Greece are running approximately 75 per cent ahead of 2018’s totals from this time. Arrivals to Spain are more than 50 per cent lower.

Deaths recorded on the three main Mediterranean Sea routes through 5 November stand at 1,090 individuals – or about 52 per cent of the 2,098 deaths confirmed during the same period in 2018 (see chart below).

These 1,090 deaths at sea include several documented only in recent days.

In the Central Mediterranean, some 88 survivors rescued by the NGO Sea-Eye’s ship Alan Kurdi on 26 October disembarked in Taranto, Italy on 3 November, after a week at sea. Survivors reported to IOM staff present at disembarkation that when the ship was threatened by an unknown Libyan vessel, which fired warning shots while the rescue operation took place, several people on board got scared and jumped into the water. A boy from Ghana is reported missing.

Also, in the Central Mediterranean, the remains of two people, believed to be from North Africa, were recovered on 31 October from a boat found adrift off the coast of Tertenia, Sardinia, Italy. The remains were transferred to the morgue of Lanusei hospital.

IOM Italy

IOM Rome’s Flavio Di Giacomo cited official Ministry of Interior figures of 9,944 migrants have arrived in Italy by sea this year through 30 October, compared to 22,232 at this same time in 2018. IOM Libya has reported that through 31 October almost 8,300 migrants have been intercepted at sea and returned to Libya in 2019.

IOM Spain

IOM Spain’s Ana Dodevska reported on Thursday sea arrivals to Spain, through 3 November have reached 22,339 compared to 49,254 at this time last year. While monthly arrivals to Spain are lower this year overall, fatalities on the Western Mediterranean route remain high – with 324 deaths reported through ten months of this year, compared to 675 at this time in 2018.

IOM Greece

IOM Greece’s Christine Nikolaidou reported on Thursday (07/11) that from Friday (01/11) up to date, the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) participated in at least 13 incidents requiring search and rescue operations off the islands of Chios, Lesvos, Samos, Kos, Kalymnos, Farmakonisi, Symi, Samothrace, Megisti and the port of Alexandroupoli. The HCG rescued a total of 346 migrants and transferred them to the respective ports.

Those arrivals, plus others between 30 October and 5 November, bring to 48,804 the total number of sea arrivals to Greece this year (see chart below).

Missing Migrants Project

2019 is the sixth year of IOM’s efforts to systematically record deaths on migration routes worldwide through its Missing Migrants Project. Since the beginning of 2014, the project has recorded the deaths of 33,775 people, including 2,613 in 2019 (see chart below).

Due to the challenges of collecting information about these people and the contexts of their deaths, the true number of lives lost during migration is likely much higher. Missing Migrants Project records should only be viewed as indicative of the risks associated with migration, rather than representative of the true number of deaths across time or geography.

In addition to the Mediterranean, sea crossings from the north-western coast of Africa to the Canary Islands (the so-called ‘Western Africa route’ to Europe) was the scene of at least one shipwreck in the early hours of Wednesday (6 November). A boat overturned in a rocky area near the municipality of Teguise, in the island of Lanzarote. Four of its occupants were able to reach the beach, where they received emergency medical assistance from a Red Cross team. Those survivors reported that there were 15 people on board. Salvamento Marítimo, Spain’s public rescue service launched a-rescue operation, during which the remains of four people were found that same Wednesday (6 November), while five more bodies were retrieved on Thursday, (7 November). Two people are believed to be missing.

This tragic incident took place just a few days after another shipwreck was documented on this route. On 29 October, an oil tanker rescued 29 people from a cayuco sailing 607km south of Gran Canaria, as well as the remains of four people.

According to testimony from survivors of that craft, a fifth person went missing at sea.

In 2019, 93 people have reportedly lost their lives on this route, more than double the 43 deaths recorded in all of 2018.

Migrating by irregular means not only to, but also within, the European continent remains dangerous for people on the move. Recently (31 October) Slovenian authorities discovered remains of two men in the Kolpa/Kupa river, near the municipality of Vukovci, Slovenia. Authorities believed they drowned while trying to enter Slovenia from Croatia. A few days later, a young man was killed in a car crash in the Egnatia Odos highway in northern Greece, near Thessaloniki.

In 2019, IOM has documented 100 deaths during migration on the European continent, a slight increase over the 98 deaths documented in the same period of 2018.

Migrant Deaths in the Americas continue during what may be the deadliest year MMP has recorded in the past six years. In total, at least 629 people have lost their lives in the Americas in 2019, compared with 515 recorded through this point in 2018.

On the US-Mexico border, two migrants recently drowned while attempting to cross the Río Bravo into Texas from Tamaulipas: on 31 October, Mexican civil protection authorities found the remains of a man near Matamoros, while a few days later, on 4 November, the body of another man was found near Ciudad Miguel Alemán. In 2019, at least 107 people have drowned in the Río Bravo, including 90 men, nine women and eight children.

In the Caribbean, three people drowned while trying to cross the Massacre river from Haiti to the Dominican Republic. The remains of two Haitian men were recovered near the municipality of La Vigía, Dajabón on 31 October, while a four-year-old girl who was travelling with them is still missing.

Missing Migrants Project data are compiled by IOM staff based at its Global Migration Data Analysis Centre 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.

The report Fatal Journey Volume 4, published 28 June, includes an overview of five years of Missing Migrants Project data (2014-2018) and an update on what is known about deaths during migration in 2019.

For latest arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean, click here. Learn more about the Missing Migrants Project

See contacts here.