Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 2,876; Deaths at Sea: 219

Posted: 
01/17/17
Themes: 
Humanitarian Emergencies, Missing Migrants

Switzerland - IOM reports that 2,876 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017, through 15 January, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy, compared with 23,664 through the first 14 days of January, 2016.

There have been 219 estimated deaths, compared with 91 during the first two weeks of 2015. This fatalities figure is considered low by IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, which is investigating reports that surfaced over the weekend that would add at least 200 deaths to the total.

IOM Rome reported that staffers have had an opportunity to speak with four survivors of one tragic shipwreck that occurred on Saturday (14/1) in the waters between Libya and Italy. There are reports that it was a larger boat which may have had over 180 migrants on board when it capsized in rough seas 30 miles off the Libyan coast. Search operations in very poor weather conditions resulted in rescuers recovering few survivors as well as the remains of eight migrants. The search for survivors continued through the weekend and involved several ships, including Italian Navy vessels and a vessel operating under Operation “Triton”.

“While the circumstances of the shipwreck will be further explained when the survivors are brought ashore, it seems likely that this incident resulted in the death of over 100 people. We still do not know the nationalities or if there were women or children on board. It is a tragic start to the new year,” said Federico Soda, Director of IOM’s Coordination Office for the Mediterranean in Rome.

In a separate rescue operation this weekend, three migrants died from hypothermia in a dinghy rescued at sea. The bodies were brought to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

On Monday some 1,100 migrants were brought to land by rescue ships patrolling the Mediterranean: 272 to Lampedusa, 244 to Augusta and 566 to Catania. The majority were Western African nationals.

Many survivors told IOM staff that they had attempted the dangerous sea crossing to flee violence and human rights abuses in Libya. They claimed to have no option but to put themselves in the hands of unscrupulous smugglers, who often forced them onto boats, despite the rough sea conditions.

“Many people have told us that when they get to the beach, those who change their mind and don't want to go are forced to get on board, sometimes with violence,” said Soda.

Migrants departing from Libya now mainly travel in inflatable rubber dinghies which can carry up to 140 people, but are often unable to withstand rough seas. “Without the outstanding work of the Italian and international ships that save hundreds of lives every day, the number of missing migrants would be much higher,” said Soda.

IOM Morocco on Monday reported its office is investigating reports of migrant fatalities on 13 and 14 January. On Friday (13/1) 21 migrants were reported missing off the coast of Tangier-Tarifa. They are believed to include two women and one infant. On 14 January a Congolese woman reportedly drowned in an incident off Nador. In a separate incident on the same day two men and one woman also went missing in the same area.

IOM Athens on Tuesday is reporting that Greek border guards using thermal cameras found the corpse of an adult male covered under a meter of snow near Feres on the Evros River. The victim is believed to have been a migrant or refugee. Authorities also discovered two individuals they believe were smugglers and seven third-country nationals, one of them in sodden, frozen clothing. The man was taken to a hospital in Alexandroupoli and IOM Athens reports that he is out of danger.

On Monday, IOM Athens reported monthly arrival of migrants and refugees in Greece during December 2016 (See chart below).  Arrivals on the islands of Lesvos, Samos and Chios saw the largest year-on-year declines. Just 1,286 people arrived on the islands last month compared to 98,037 in December 2015.

 

Number of Irregular Migrants Detected at Greek Borders
(Hellenic Police & Hellenic Coast Guard)

A/A

AREA

DECEMBER 2015

DECEMBER 2016

GREEK-TURKISH LAND BORDERS

1

GREEK-TURKISH LAND BORDERS

651

202

GREEK - TURKISH SEA BORDERS

2

LESVOS

67,290

817

3

SAMOS

9,129

48

4

CHIOS

21,618

421

5

A' POLICE DIRECTORATE OF DODECANESE

1,758

115

6

B' POLICE DIRECTORATE OF DODECANESE

10,946

315

7

SAMOTHRACE

0

0

CRETE

12

CRETE

56

66

 

IOM also reported on Monday the nationality breakdowns for over 170,000 irregular migrants who registered in Greece after arriving by sea last year.  

As in 2015, the largest single contingent came from Syria, with 79,467 men, women and children. The second largest group came from Afghanistan (41,369), followed by Iraq (25,975), Pakistan (8,353) and Iran (5,278).  Only two other countries posted more than 1,000 arrivals: Palestine (1,945) and Algeria (1,629).

Smaller numbers of migrants came from further afield, including Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and South Asia. Greek authorities reported some 173 migrants from Nigeria, 816 from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 570 from Morocco, 801 from Bangladesh and 164 from Sri Lanka. 

Another 316 came from the Dominican Republic, 20 from Haiti and one each from Jamaica, Guyana, Kenya, Bolivia, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Panama, Rwanda and Tanzania. There were three irregular migrants with Cuban citizenship and four from Viet Nam.

For the latest Mediterranean Update infographic: 
http://migration.iom.int/docs/MMP/Mediterranean_Update_170106_02.pdf
For latest arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean, please visit: http://migration.iom.int/europe
Learn more about the Missing Migrants Project at: http://missingmigrants.iom.int

For further information please contact:
Joel Millman at IOM Geneva, Tel: +41.79.103 8720, Email: jmillman@iom.int
Flavio Di Giacomo at IOM Italy, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email: fdigiacomo@iom.int 
Sabine Schneider at IOM Germany, Tel: +49 30 278 778 17 Email: sschneider@iom.int
IOM Greece: Daniel Esdras, Tel: +30 210 9912174, Email: iomathens@iom.int or Kelly Namia, Tel: +30 210 9919040, +30 210 9912174, Email: knamia@iom.int 
Julia Black at IOM GMDAC, Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email: jblack@iom.int
Mazen Aboulhosn at IOM Turkey, Tel: +9031245-51202, Email: maboulhosn@iom.int
IOM Libya: Othman Belbeisi, Tel: +216 29 600389, Email: obelbeisi@iom.int or Ashraf Hassan, Tel: +216297 94707, Email: ashassan@iom.int
Hicham Hasnaoui at IOM Morocco, Tel: + 212 5 37 65 28 81, Email: hhasnaoui@iom.int

For information or interview requests in French:
Florence Kim, OIM Genève, Tel: +41 79 103 03 42, Email: fkim@iom.int
Flavio Di Giacomo, OIM Italie, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email: fdigiacomo@iom.int

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