In the first three months of 2021, some 4,600 refugees and migrants crossed the sea from Libya to Europe, a 53% increase compared to the same period in 2020. As in previous years, many of those taking this route had international protection needs or other specific needs on account of their personal circumstances or experiences during the journey, including in Libya, due to having been victims of trafficking, gender-based violence, or being unaccompanied children.
In addition, 4,800 refugees and migrants who departed from Libya by sea were also disembarked in Libya in the first three months of 2021, mostly following interceptions or rescues by the Libyan Coast Guard.1 UNHCR continues to advise against returns to Libya, which is not a safe place for disembarkation.²
ARRIVALS TO ITALY AND MALTA
Some 4,500 refugees and migrants have arrived in Italy from Libya so far in 2021, a 143% increase compared to the same period last year. This includes 1,500 persons who arrived in March 2021. So far this year, 61% of all sea arrivals in Italy had departed from Libya.³
A further 65 refugees and migrants have disembarked in Malta so far in 2021, a 94% decrease compared to the same period last year. All of these persons arrived in February (none in January or March).
NATIONALITIES AND DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION
According to available information, so far in 2021, Bangladeshis, Sudanese and Guineans have been the primary nationality groups of arrivals in Italy, and Sudanese, Eritreans and Syrians the primary nationality groups of arrivals in Malta. Some 74% of all arrivals so far have been men, 21% children (most of them unaccompanied) and 5% women.
This, however, does not always accurately represent the primary nationalities departing from the Libyan coast, as Sudanese, Malians and Guineans have been the primary nationality groups disembarked in Libya this year.⁴