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Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 269,244; Deaths at Sea: 3,164

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Italy - IOM reports that 269,244 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 through 21 August, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy, where 104,141 migrants or refugees have arrived during 2016.

This is slightly lower than the number recorded through 2015’s first eight months, when a total of 354,618 arrivals were recorded crossing the Mediterranean, the majority from Turkey to Greece.

IOM Rome reported on Monday almost 2,300 migrants and refugees were rescued in the Channel of Sicily over three days starting Friday, August 19th. They were brought ashore in Catania, Capo Rizzuto, Trapani, Augusta, Lampedusa and Messina.

On Friday a boat departing Libya with 27 Syrians on board capsized. Most of the migrants were wearing life jackets and managed to board the MOAS rescue ship Topaz. Five migrants – a man, two women and two infants – died and their bodies were recovered. Two others are missing. Another body was recovered by an Italian vessel on Sunday.

The remaining 20 survivors were brought to Trapani on Saturday, together with another 286 migrants rescued by the Topaz in other operations. Main countries of origin included Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Sudan, Morocco, Pakistan, Côte d’Ivoire and Syria.

“Over 40 of the migrants who arrived in Trapani were Syrians. Many were families with children,” said IOM Italy spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo. “We were surprised because we have not seen many Syrians arriving this year. Since January, only 328 Syrians have arrived here by sea. When we spoke with them, they told us that they have been living in Libya for about two years. So their arrival is not a consequence of the closure of the Balkan route.”

IOM’s Missing Migrants Project reports that fatalities in the Mediterranean have already have surpassed the total for the first eight months of 2015. The project reports that as of Wednesday, 3,164 migrants and refugees have died since 1 January – some 508 more than in the first eight months of last year. The project recorded 2,656 fatalities between 1 January and 31 August, 2015. Total Mediterranean deaths for all of 2015 were 3,673.