Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 146,849 in 2017; Deaths Reach 2,783

Humanitarian Emergencies, Missing Migrants, Refugee and Asylum Issues

Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 146,849 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through 18 October, with over 75 per cent arriving in Italy and the remainder divided between Greece, Cyprus and Spain. This compares with 320,033 arrivals across the region through the same period last year.

IOM Rome reported Thursday (19/10) that on Wednesday, 585 migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean and will be brought to land in the next few days. These latest rescues are in addition to the 110,329 migrants and refugees arriving by sea to Italy this year, according to IOM estimates.

IOM Athens’ Kelly Namia reported on Thursday three events occurring since Sunday (15 October) off the islands of Lesvos and Farmakonisi that required search and rescue operations. The Hellenic Coast Guard managed to rescue 95 migrants and transfer them to the respective islands.

Namia further reported that migrant sea arrivals to Greek territory totalled 2,431 for the first 17 days of October, and 22,105 for the year so far. (See chart below.)

IOM Libya’s Christine Petré reported Thursday on two at-sea recues/interceptions near the Libyan capital, Tripoli. On 18 October, 121 migrants (91 men, 8 women and 22 minors) in one rubber boat were rescued, she said.

The majority came from Mali and Cote d’Ivoire. All were in good health. One of the women on the boat, a 38-year-old Nigerian, travelled on the boat with her 14-year-old son, aiming to reach Europe for a better life. They left Nigeria four months ago. But soon after the smugglers left their boat at sea it started to sink. “I was hugging my boy and kept telling him to stay with me. I asked him to close his eyes and pray,” the mother told IOM.

On 17 October, 137 migrants (127 men, 4 women and 6 minors) were rescued/intercepted off Tripoli. The majority came from Morocco, Bangladesh, Egypt and Nigeria. All were in good health.

So far this year, 18,815 migrants have been rescued/intercepted in Libyan waters.

Worldwide, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP) has recorded the deaths of 4,709 people migrating in 2017.  Since last week, MMP recorded one death in Central America: a Honduran migrant fell from a freight train in Coatzacoalcos, Mexico. In the Middle East, two young men died when attempting to cross the Syrian-Turkish border near Darkoush in Idlib province, Syria.

In Southeast Asia, at least 11 people (including seven children) were reported to have drowned in the Naf River on Monday, 16 October, when their boat capsized as they fled violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar to seek refuge in Bangladesh. An estimated 30 migrants are missing. Since 31 August of this year, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has recorded the deaths of 214 Rohingya on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.

Off the coast of Sfax in Tunisia, the remains of nine more victims have been recovered from the incident that occurred on 8 October.* The number of bodies recovered is now 44, with an estimated five migrants still missing. This past Monday (16 October), another body was recovered in a different location off the coast of Tunisia. These deaths bring the total of fatalities in the Mediterranean in 2017 to 2,783.

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 missing migrants are collected, click here.

*When deaths occur at sea, Missing Migrants Project often relies on the estimates of survivors once they are rescued, with the lowest estimate of missing persons always used in the dataset.

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For more information, please contact:
Joel Millman at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 79 103 8720, Email:
Mircea Mocanu, IOM Romania, Tel:  +40212115657, Email:
Dimitrios Tsagalas, IOM Cyprus, Tel: + 22 77 22 70, E-mail:
Flavio Di Giacomo, IOM Italy, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email:
Kelly Namia, IOM Greece, Tel: +30 210 991 2174, Email:
Julia Black, IOM GMDAC, Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email:
Christine Petré, IOM Libya, Tel: +216 29 240 448, Email:
Ana Dodevska, IOM Spain, Tel: +34 91 445 7116, Email: