Switzerland - IOM reports that 16,775 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through 26 February, with just over 80 percent arriving in Italy and the rest in Greece and Spain. This compares with 124,986 through the first 57 days of 2016.
IOM Rome reports that 13,457 migrant arrivals in Italy before the end of February represents a significant increase compared with arrivals in the same period during each of the past two years. Last year just fewer than 9,000 migrants had arrived by this date. IOM notes that with two days left in the month, Italian arrivals already are well above those recorded during the first two months of either 2015 or 2016.
Deaths at sea in the region this year also are running well ahead of fatalities in 2016, especially on the Mediterranean’s central route linking Libya and Italy. IOM’s Missing Migrants Project reports an estimated 444 deaths or disappearances of migrants on this corridor through 26 February, compared with 97 last year at this time – an increase of almost 400 percent.
Across the entire Mediterranean region, deaths at sea stand now at 485 men, women and children, compared with 425 at this time in 2016. Another factor in these statistics: traffic between Turkey and Greece – which claimed 321 lives during the first 57 days of 2016 – has virtually ceased. This year IOM has recorded just two deaths on the Eastern Mediterranean route.
IOM Libya reported Monday that the bodies of 143 migrants have been recovered from Libyan beaches through the first 57 days of 2017 (See chart below). Just over 75 percent of those deaths occurred this month.
IOM Libya also recorded this week the disappearance of 105 migrants on February 22 – the same day as 13 bodies washed up in Al Khums, apparently from the same shipwreck. This brings the total number of dead recovered in Libyan waters this year to 248, or just over half the total of fatalities recorded in the Mediterranean so far this year.
“The increased activity of Libyan authorities patrolling the coast, and NGOs like the Libyan Red Crescent working relentlessly to handle the remains in a humane and dignified way, are the main reasons we know about so many deaths this year,” said IOM Libya spokesperson Christine Petré.
“We can only guess at how many deaths like these, occurred last year and how many more lives were lost needlessly,” she added.
Figures on migrant deaths worldwide continue to trail those of 2016, due largely to a lack of data reported along African routes where, by this date in 2016, some 458 migrant fatalities were confirmed.
Despite the lack of available data, IOM can show that migrants this year have been dying at a rate of at least 12 per day – an average that is almost certain to climb as the weather improves and migration activity grows more robust in the coming months.
For the latest Mediterranean Update infographic: http://migration.iom.int/docs/MMP/170228_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
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