Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 84,345 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2018 through 3 October, with 38,451 to Spain, the leading destination this year.
The region’s total arrivals through the recent weekend compare with 139,677 arrivals across the region through the same period last year, and 312,153 at this same point in 2016. Deaths on the Mediterranean remain high, at 1,777. However, that figure is well below fatalities recorded at this time last year (2,749) or 2016 (3,682).
Arrivals to Italy – just 947 in September – marked the first time in the last five years months fewer than 1,000 migrants or refugees landed in Italy (see chart below). Almost as few arrived in February and March this year, traditionally the slowest period of the season, yet even in those winter months at least 1,000 arrivals were recorded. The sharp drop that began over a year ago during the summer of 2017 has accelerated throughout this current year.
IOM’s Missing Migrants Project notes that at least 1,777 people have died or gone missing on migratory routes across the Mediterranean region during the first nine months of 2018 and into 3 October, which marks the fifth anniversary of the October 2013 Lampedusa shipwrecks.
IOM Rome’s Flavio Di Giacomo noted Thursday, “Wednesday marked five years since a shipwreck off the Italian island of Lampedusa claimed 368 victims. In Italy, 3 October became the official Remembrance Day for those migrants – formally titled National Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Immigration.”
He explained that, five years ago, the Lampedusa shipwrecks made headlines and the international community seemed united in its willingness to avoid further death at sea. But since then, 14,736 migrants have lost their lives on the Central Mediterranean Route trying to reach Europe.
IOM – together with UNHCR and other organizations – took part this week in the commemoration of the tragedy organized by the ‘3 October Committee’ in Lampedusa. The initiative brought to the island students from across Italy (as well as from a school in Paris) who attended awareness lessons on migration issues. IOM staff provided a lesson on the trafficking of human beings. The commemoration was concluded with a silent march led by the survivors of the shipwreck and ended at the Gate of Europe, created in 2008 by the artist Mimmo Paladino, the memorial monument dedicated to all migrants who have died at sea.
“It is important to come to Lampedusa on 3 October because the tragedy that took place on that day must always be commemorated, together with all the other tragedies that unfortunately are still happening at sea. We came here also to stress, once again, that saving life at sea must always be a priority,” said Federico Soda, Director of the IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean.
IOM’s Missing Migrants Project notes that over 60 per cent of migrant deaths worldwide in 2018 have been recorded in the Mediterranean. Most recently, a shipwreck between Morocco and Spain occurred on 1 October: 11 bodies have been recovered from the capsized patera while another 23 people remain missing, according to testimonies from 26 survivors. A child and an infant are among the 34 dead or still missing.
Also, in the Western Mediterranean: the body of a sub-Saharan African woman presumed to be a migrant was found on Cabo Negro beach, Morocco last Sunday. In the Central Mediterranean, an NGO plane patrolling the coast of Libya reported spotted a body floating several miles northeast of Zuwara on Monday. No remains have been retrieved since then, which is another indication that many more migrant deaths in the Mediterranean probably go undetected.
IOM Libya reported Thursday total departures of stranded migrants this year under IOM’s Voluntary Humanitarian Return programme have reached 12,819 with 172 leaving last week and 121 the first two days of October (see chart below).
Since 1 January 2017, IOM has returned 32,190 under VHR, either via commercial airliners or charters. The top four countries of return are Nigeria, Niger, Mali and Guinea. Last week’s returnees went home to The Gambia, Bangladesh, Guinea and Cameroon. This week’s returnees were to Senegal, Pakistan, Cameroon and Bangladesh.
IOM Spain’s Ana Dodevska reported Thursday that IOM estimates that through 03 October, data provided by Spain’s Ministry of Interior indicate the total number of arrivals to Spain is 43,371, of which 38,451 are registered as arrivals by sea (see charts below).
IOM notes that over this year’s first five months, a total of 8,150 men, women and children were rescued in Spanish waters after leaving Africa – an average of 54 per day. In the 125 days since May 31, a total of 29,564 have arrived – or just under 240 migrants per day. The months of August-September alone have seen a total of 13,723 irregular migrants arriving by sea – or 225 per day, on average. Through the first three days of October, an average of 353 irregular migrants have arrived each day.
Dimitrios Tsagalas of IOM Cyprus reported Thursday that on 2 October Cyprus Civil Defence spotted 16 people at the Ledra Palace checkpoint. According to IOM staff who were on the Pournara Temporary Accommodation, two males, four females and 10 children, all of Syrian nationality, were reported in the party. Tsagalas said with those latest arrivals the total number of irregular migrants and refugees arriving in 2018 to Cyprus now is 501.
IOM Greece reported on Thursday that from Tuesday (02 October) through Wednesday night, the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) reported at least five incidents requiring search and rescue operations off the islands of Samos and Lesvos. The HCG rescued a total of 259 migrants and transferred them to the respective islands.
Those and 61 more arrivals over three days (2-4 October) bring to 23,560 the total number of arrivals by sea to Greece through 04 October (see chart below).
IOM’s Western Balkans team reports that according to available DTM flow monitoring data, more than 4,351 new migrants were registered arriving in Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1 and 30 September 2018, which is twenty times more than the average of 220 monthly arrivals reported in the countries concerned in 2017.
Between January and September 2018, authorities in these countries registered a total of 21,059 irregular entries. According to the available information on nationalities: Pakistan, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Algeria and Iraq are the most commonly reported origin countries. The distribution of migrants by nationality varies between the three countries on the route. One third of all registered migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina were from Pakistan, followed by those from the Islamic Republic of Iran (15%), the Syrian Arab Republic (13%), Afghanistan (10%), and Iraq (9%).
In Montenegro and Albania, Syrian nationals comprised the majority (42% and 50% respectively), followed by those who arrived from Pakistan (16% and 19% respectively), Algeria (8%) in Montenegro and Iraq (9%) in Albania. Such differences in the nationality structure of registered migrants are explained by the fact that migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina also enter from Serbia and that certain groups of migrants from Montenegro continue not only toward Bosnia and Herzegovina but toward Serbia as well. Further on, since March 2018, DTM is monitoring outgoing flows from Albania to Montenegro in Shkoder region. According to the available data there were 1,164 migrants apprehended while attempting to exit Albania irregularly. Similarly to the nationality breakdown of registered arrivals, outgoing flows were predominantly composed of migrants from the Syrian Arab Republic (39%) and Pakistan (33%).
Available DTM flow monitoring data for Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia also indicate increased movement of irregular migrants to/through these countries. Between January and September 2018, there were 5,593 newly registered migrants in the reception centers across Serbia. This is almost twice the 2,897 registered in the same period last year, and slightly more than the 5,435 registered in the whole of 2017. More than half of all registered migrants in Serbia this year declared Pakistani origin (58%), another 12% were from the Islamic Republic of Iran followed by 9% of migrants from Afghanistan, 6% from Iraq and 6% of Bangladeshi nationals. In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia authorities reported arrival of 2,361 irregular migrants as of 19 September, four times the 547 reported in the whole of 2017.
Beyond the Mediterranean, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has documented the deaths and disappearances of 2,797 people during migration to international destinations in 2018 (see chart below).
Elsewhere in the world – where infrequent monitoring of migratory routes means that data on migrant deaths is even more scarce – several migrant deaths were recorded. On the US-Mexico border, two bodies were recovered near the Rio Grande. On Sunday, a man’s body was found among the bushes on banks of the river near Mission, Texas.
On Monday, an unidentified man was found drowned in the Rio Grande in the south of Maverick County, Texas. On Wednesday, another unidentified man was found dead after falling from La Bestia – the notoriously dangerous cargo trains used by migrants travelling northwards to the US – near Tezuapan, Mexico, near Cañada Morelos. This same region was the site of another Bestia-related death, of a 28-year-old migrant from El Salvador whose remains were recovered in July near a railroad crossing known as “Bola de Nopal,” or “Cactus Ball.”
In Africa, reports that a ship carrying 60 migrants had been lost at sea off the coast of Guinea-Bissau had a less dire outcome than expected. Despite initial reports that wreckage from the migrants’ boat had been recovered, Captain Siga Batista confirmed that 63 missing migrants had been rescued by a cargo ship and brought to the Gambia. There were later reports that two individuals were lost at sea, though this has not yet been confirmed.
Missing Migrants Project data are compiled by IOM staff but come from a variety of sources, some of which are unofficial. To learn more about how data on migrants’ deaths and disappearances are collected, click here.
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