Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 11,636 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea through the first 73 days of 2018, with about 48 per cent arriving in Italy and the remainder divided between Greece (29%), Spain (22%) and Cyprus (less than 1%). This compares with 20,306 at this point in 2017.
IOM Rome’s Flavio Di Giacomo said Thursday the 5,945 men, women and children arriving as irregular migrants to Italy this year represents a decline of more than 62 per cent over last year’s irregular sea arrivals through this date.
Di Giacomo added that IOM Rome has learned of rescue operations occurring Thursday adding the NGO Open Arms rescued 218 migrants, while IOM also learned another 270 migrants were rescued by the Libyan Coast Guard.
IOM Libya's Christine Petré reported that late Wednesday night at around 23:00 local time, 122 migrants (97 men, 24 women, one child) were returned to Libyan shore by the Libyan Coast Guard after having boarded unseaworthy dinghies in their attempt to reach Europe. The migrants left from the Abu Sitta disembarkation point in Tripoli, where these migrants received water, food, primary health check-ups and protection screenings by IOM staff. Five of the women also received pregnancy care. Migrants were transferred to Tajoura detention centre.
On Thursday, she reported, 96 migrants (53 men, 40 women, three children) received emergency assistance from IOM after they were returned to Libyan shores by the Libyan Coast Guard. IOM staff provided hygiene kits, blankets, health and protection screenings. Three migrants with petrol burns were treated and family phone calls were provided. Migrants were transferred to Tajoura detention centre. IOM at this time is trying to learn if these rescued migrants were among the same ones IOM Rome reported on Friday morning, or from a separate attempt made to reach Europe.
No emergency cases were identified and no bodies were retrieved in either of the rescues reproted this week by IOM Libya.
So far this year, 3,279 migrants have been returned to Libyan shore by the Libyan Coast Guard, a 56 percent increase compared to the same period in 2017.
Through 15 March Italy arrivals are averaging just over 80 persons per day, well below the levels of the two previous years (see chart below). In both 2016 and 2017 March arrivals were low through the middle of the month, and then rose quickly as the weather warmed
Di Giacomo also reported statistics from Italy’s Ministry of Interior concerning the leading nationalities among irregular migrants so far in 2018
Eritrea was the leading sender through February, as was the case in January, followed by Tunisia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Libya and the Côte d’Ivoire. Given the small number of arrivals in February (1,058 migrants in 28 days – or less than 40 per day) the number of newcomers arriving in February from each of these nations was small: 124 from Nigeria, 31 from Côte d’Ivoire, 30 from Libya and 13 from Pakistan. Nonetheless, the statistics demonstrate growing activity from Africa’s northern coast: a total of 1,583 arrivals have left for Italy this year from Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Libya – or roughly one-third of all arrivals through the first two months of 2018. IOM Athens’ Kelly Namia that over the three days (11-13 March) the Hellenic Coast Guard reported two incidents requiring search and rescue operations off the island of Chios. The Coast Guard rescued 58 migrants and transferred them to that island. Those rescued, plus another 130 migrants arriving in Kos, Rhodes, Megisti and Lesvos bring the total number of sea arrivals to Greek territory through 13 March to 3,562 (see chart below) – an average for the year of just under 50 persons per day.
IOM Spain’s Ana Dodevska reported that total arrivals by sea in 2018 have reached 2,764 men, women and children who have been rescued in Western Mediterranean waters through 14 March.
IOM’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP) reported Thursday that deaths on the three Mediterranean routes – 463 as of March 14 – were down some 14 per cent below their total at this same time in 2017, when 536 migrants had been counted as drowned or missing in the waters between North Africa and Italy.
Worldwide, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has recorded 740 migrant fatalities in 2018, compared with 1,046 through 14 March last year
Most recently, three people lost their lives in Mexico during their journey to the US border: on 12 March, the remains of a 22-year-old migrant from El Salvador were found near Federal Highway 200 in Tapachula, Chiapas, while on 13 March a young Honduran migrant was hit by a train in San Mateo Ixtacalco, Cuautitlán. On the US-Mexico border, a 20-year-old Mexican man drowned in the Río Bravo, near Reynosa Díaz, Tamaulipas.
The Missing Migrants Project also recorded one death on 12 March at the Greece-Turkey border, as the remains of one migrant were retrieved by Greek authorities in the Evros River, which flows along the country’s north-eastern border with Turkey.
On the same day, a 22-year-old Eritrean man died in Italy after being rescued from an overcrowded boat off the coast of Libya. He disembarked in Pozzallo, Sicily on 12 March from Proactiva Open Arms’ rescue ship and was immediately taken to the hospital. He died 12 hours later.
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.
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