1 . The present report is submitted pursuant to paragraph 3 of Security Council resolution 2491 (2019), in which the Council renewed its request to me to report on the implementation of resolution 2240 (2015), in particular the implementation of paragraphs 7 to 10 of that resolution.
2 . The report covers developments since my previous report of 6 April 2020 (S/2020/275) until 20 August 2020. The information and observations herein are based on submissions by Member States, relevant international and regional bodies and United Nations entities.
II. Smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya
Update on developments along the central Mediterranean route
3 . The Mediterranean Sea remains a deadly thoroughfare for refugees and migrants trying to reach European shores. During the reporting period, many people have again perished or gone missing at sea on their way to Europe, and thousands have been returned to Libya, where they remain at risk of grave harm. From 1 March to 31 July 2020, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimate that 168 refugees and migrants perished or went missing at sea on the central Mediterranean route, including at least 56 after departing from Libya. During the same period in 2019, UNHCR and IOM estimated that 441 refugees and migrants perished or went missing, including 433 after departing from Libya. IOM estimated that an additional 60 people may have died along the central Mediterranean route in the period from 1 March to 31 July 2020 as a result of so-called “invisible shipwrecks”, where the final whereabouts of boats carrying refugees and migrants could not be established. Those numbers, however, do not account for people who died or went missing after they were returned to Libya. Beyond the central Mediterranean route, from 1 March to 31 July 2020, IOM and UNHCR recorded at least 24 refugees and migrants as having died or gone missing at sea on the western Mediterranean route and 8 on the eastern Mediterranean route, compared with 124 and 54, respectively, during the same period in 2019.
4 . From 1 March to 31 July 2020, UNHCR and IOM recorded around 20,000 arrivals of refugees and migrants in Europe via the three main sea routes across the Mediterranean, a roughly 30 per cent decrease as compared with the same period in 2019, when over 28,000 arrivals by sea in Europe were recorded. The central Mediterranean route accounted for roughly 60 per cent of these arrivals, with ove r 12,410 refugees and migrants coming mainly from Tunisia and Libya, but also from Algeria (of this total over 11,460 arrived in Italy and over 950 in Malta). This represents a 142 per cent increase for this route as compared with the almost 5,140 recorded arrivals from 1 March to 31 July 2019 (approximately 3,605 in Italy and approximately 1,535 in Malta). The increase in arrivals in Europe through the central Mediterranean route was mainly driven by an increase in departures from Libya and Tunisia. From 1 March to 31 July 2020, over 3,100 arrivals by sea in Greece through the eastern Mediterranean route were recorded and almost 4,200 arrivals in Spain through the western Mediterranean route, compared with over 14,500 arrivals by sea in Greece and around 7,950 arrivals by sea in Spain during the same period in 2019.
5 . From 1 March to 31 July, UNHCR recorded 9,500 people (82 per cent men, 5 per cent women and 13 per cent children) as having departed from Libya, compared with 6,636 people (79 per cent men, 6 per cent women and 15 per cent children) during the same period the year before. The European Union noted that the Tripolitania region was the most active area for departures from Libya during the reporting period. Among those arriving in Italy from Libya during the reporting period, IOM estimated that more than half (57 per cent) departed from Zuwarah, 14 per cent from Zawiyah, 5 per cent from Sabratah, with the rest departing from Qasr al-Qarabulli, Khums, Zlitan and Tripoli. Of those returned to Libya, IOM estimates that approximately 60 per cent had embarked from the Khums and Qasr al-Qarabull area and roughly 35 per cent from the Zawiyah and Zuwarah areas.
6 . The European Union estimated that, from 1 March to 31 July 2020, approximately 9,050 persons were rescued or intercepted in 128 operations by various vessels in the areas of operation of its Naval Force military operations in the Southern Central Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA) and in the Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR MED operation IRINI), 52 of which were conducted by the Libyan coastguard and navy.
7 . According to UNHCR data, from 1 March to 31 July 2020, of those departing from Libya, 45 per cent were rescued or intercepted by the Libyan coastguard in the Libyan and Maltese search and rescue regions, 24 per cent were rescued by Italian authorities, 8 per cent managed to reach Italy on their own, 7 per cent were rescued by non-governmental organization (NGO) vessels, 7 per cent were rescued by the Armed Forces of Malta, 4 per cent were rescued or intercepted by merchant vessels (disembarking roughly a quarter of those rescued or intercepted at sea in Libya, and the rest in Italy or Malta) and a small percentage (3 per cent) were rescued or intercepted by fishing boats (some on behalf of the Maltese authorities).