Mediterranean Migrants: Latest Developments

Posted: 
11/24/15
Themes: 
Missing Migrants, Refugee and Asylum Issues

Greece - IOM staff in Greece report a drastic decrease in the number of migrants and refugees crossing into Greece over the weekend. On Sunday, just 155 migrants arrived on the Greek islands by sea. Of these, 79 arrived in Kalymnos, 44 in Megisti and 24 in Lesvos. The remainder arrived in Chios and Kos.

The drop is significant given that, according to IOM estimates, some 100,000 migrants have crossed into Greece since the beginning of November – averaging around 4,500 crossings per day.

There have also been no migrant fatalities in Greek waters since November 17th, when the Hellenic Coast Guard recovered the remains of nine people – a man, four women and four children. Seven people were rescued and two young boys remain missing, presumed drowned. IOM reports that 585 people have perished on the Eastern Mediterranean migration route since the start of 2015.

November as a whole has seen 14 of 23 days in which no deaths at sea were reported, making this the safest month since August, when there were 13 days with no fatalities recorded. By contrast, September had only nine days without a fatality, and October just ten.

Meanwhile, the Emergency Exit Camp, which is located at Greece’s border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), has exceeded its capacity, following a decision by the FYROM to only allow Syrians, Afghanis and Iraqis to cross the border.

The atmosphere at the border is tense and Iranian migrants are reportedly trying to prevent crossings by Syrians, Afghanis and Iraqis. Some have also sewn up their lips to protest the closure.

IOM estimates that the number of migrants not allowed to cross the border rose from 400 on Thursday morning, to 800 by Friday morning and 1,300 on Saturday morning. By Sunday morning there were between 1,500 and 2,000. The main nationalities included Iranians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Moroccans.

Migrants from Morocco told IOM observers they flew to Istanbul in order to cross into Greece.

FYROM officials report that they have recorded the arrival of large numbers of migrants from these four countries since January 2015. The largest group are Iranian. Some 6,231 have been registered since the beginning of the year. The same period saw the arrival of some 5,400 Pakistanis and over 2,000 Palestinians. Large numbers of Nigerians, Congolese, Lebanese and Algerians have also been recorded, according to FYROM authorities (Table 3).

Some 150 migrants stranded at the border have returned to Athens by taxi or bus, according to IOM staff. But others are reportedly still trying to cross the border illegally at other locations. FYROM border police are under orders to stop them.

Table 1: Arrivals in Greece and Border Crossing to the FYROM (All Nationalities)

Day

Arrivals on Greek Islands

Arrivals at the Ports of Athens & Kavala

Border Crossings (Greece – the FYROM)

20/11/2015

5,147

2,725

1,250

21/11/2015

2,969

7,814

6,100

22/11/2015

155

478

3,950

Meanwhile in Italy bad weather conditions and the arrival of autumn storms are behind another drop in migrant arrivals. Compared with the first three weeks of October, when a total of 5,342 migrants landed in the country, during the same period of November a total of 1,708 migrants were rescued at sea and brought ashore.

“This is a decrease that does not surprise us, as it is normal to register a drop of arrivals in November,” said IOM Italy spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo. “The big difference compared to last year is the change in nationalities of the migrants. Most Syrians are no longer coming to Italy, as now they mainly reach Europe through Greece.”

Mediterranean Developments
Table 2: Arrivals by Sea and Deaths in the Mediterranean: 1 January – 22 November 2015

Country of Arrival

Arrivals

Deaths

Italy

142,695 (IOM est.)

2,878

(Central Med. route)

Malta

106

Greece

712,159

585

(Eastern Med. route)

Spain

3,845

  85
(Western Med. and Western African routes)

Estimated Total

858,805

3,548

                     

 

Table 3: Registered Arrivals in the FYROM: 19 June – 23 November 2015

Country of Origin

Persons

Other demographic data

Syria

167,705

 

160,992 male
42,734 female
57,822 children (accompanied by a family member)
14,758 unaccompanied children

Afghanistan

63,009

Iraq

24,159

Iran

6,231

Pakistan

5,416

Palestine

2,158

Somalia

1,276

Bangladesh

1,253

Morocco

1,311

Democratic Republic of the Congo

514

Algeria

453

Lebanon

434

Nigeria

277

Other countries

                            2,110

Total

      276,306

*** Source of Statistics: Ministry of Internal Affairs – number of registered persons that have expressed the intention to submit an asylum application and covers the period from 19 June 2015 (start date of the registration process) up to 23 November 2015.

For the latest Mediterranean Update data on arrivals and fatalities please visit: http://migration.iom.int/europe

For further information, please contact Flavio Di Giacomo at IOM Italy, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email: fdigiacomo@iom.int or IOM Greece. Daniel Esdras, Tel: +30 210 9912174, Email: iomathens@iom.int or Kelly Namia, Tel: +302109919040, +302109912174, Email: knamia@iom.int  or, for the FYROM, please contact Ivona Zakoska at IOM Skopje, Tel. +389 2 30 88 100, Ext. 133, Email: izakoska@iom.int.

IOM staff rescue migrants from an overturned boat on the island of Kos.
IOM staff rescue migrants from an overturned boat on the island of Kos.