1. The present report is submitted pursuant to paragraph 3 of Security Council resolution 2546 (2020), in which the Council renewed its request 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 the previous report of 2 September 2020 (S/2020/876) until 20 August 2021. The information and observations in the report are based on submissions by Member States, relevant international and regional bodies, and United Nations system entities.
II. Smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons in theMediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya
Update on developments along the central Mediterranean route
3. The Mediterranean Sea remains one of the deadliest thoroughfares for refugees and migrants trying to reach European shores. During the reporting period, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimated that more than 1,595 refugees and migrants perished or went missing on the central Mediterranean route.
That number, however, does not account for people who died or went missing after they had been returned to Libya, nor for other deaths of migrants in Libyan territory.
4. The number is considerably higher than that for the previous reporting year (1 August 2019–31 July 2020), when at least 919 people died or went missing in the Mediterranean Sea.
5. IOM estimates that, in addition, more than 80 people may have died along the central Mediterranean route as a result of “invisible shipwrecks”, in which the final whereabouts of boats carrying refugees and migrants could not be established.
6. During the reporting period, IOM and UNHCR logged at least 417 refugees and migrants as having died or gone missing at sea along the western Mediterranean route (against 431 in the previous reporting year), and 45 along the eastern Mediterranean route (against 90).
7. UNHCR and IOM recorded more than 74,000 people (72 per cent men, 7 per cent women and 21 per cent children) arriving in Europe along the three main sea routes across the Mediterranean, a decrease of roughly 21 per cent as compared with the previous reporting year. The central Mediterranean route accounted for about 50,300 refugees and migrants arriving by sea in Europe (around 49,600 to Italy and 690 to Malta). They departed mainly from Libya, but also from Tunisia, Algeria, Turkey, Greece and Egypt. These figures represent an increase of 98 per cent compared with the previous reporting year, when approximately 25,400 arrivals by sea were recorded (more than 21,600 in Italy and 3,780 in Malta).
8. The increase in the number of arrivals in Europe through the central Mediterranean route was mainly driven by an increase in the number of departures from Libya and Tunisia. Although only tentative estimates of the number of people departing to Europe along the central Mediterranean route are possible, data from Italy and Malta indicate that more than 20,700 people (73 per cent men, 5 per cent women and 22 per cent children) who departed from Libya reached Europe between August 2020 and July 2021, including more than 4,350 children, compared with more than 12,530 (including more than 2,730 children) during the previous reporting year.
9. IOM estimates that the majority of those arriving in Italy from Libya during the reporting period, had departed from the coast to the west of Tripoli. Over 60 per cent departed from Zuwarah, 24 per cent from Zawiyah, 6 per cent from Abu Kammash, 3 per cent from Sabratah, 2 per cent from Tripoli, and the remaining 3 per cent from other locations. IOM noted that, in June 2021, two small boats had departed from eastern Libya (Benghazi and Tubruq). Furthermore, UNHCR reported that over 1,800 people who had departed from Libya disembarked in Tunisia after having been rescued at sea by Tunisian authorities.
10. The European Union estimated that approximately 17,380 people were rescued or intercepted in 593 operations1 by various vessels in the area of operation of its Naval Force military operation in the Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR MED operation IRINI). Of these, 208 operations were conducted by the Libyan coastguard and navy with more than 16,000 people intercepted and brought back to Libya. In addition, the country’s General Administration for Coastal Security was involved in 15 operations (mainly in Libyan territorial waters) with more than 1,330 migrants intercepted and brought back to Libya.
11. According to UNHCR, from 1 August 2020 until 31 July 2021, of those departing from Libya and disembarking back in Libya, 97 per cent were rescued or intercepted by the Libyan coastguard and General Administration for Coastal Security. The remaining rescue operations were carried out by merchant vessels and fishing boats.
12. Of the persons who departed from Libya and disembarked in Europe, 61 per cent were rescued by Italian authorities, 23 per cent were rescued by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), 10 per cent managed to reach Italy on their own, 4 per cent were rescued by merchant vessels, and 2 per cent were rescued by the Armed Forces of Malta. Search-and-rescue NGOs reported several cases in which actors delayed search-and-rescue assistance, which resulted in incidents involving loss of life.