725 More Mediterranean Migrant Deaths Than This Period Last Year

Switzerland - An estimated 725 more migrants have died in the Mediterranean so far in 2016 compared to the same period (January to 4 November) in 2015. This is after 240 migrants went missing and are presumed dead after two shipwrecks on Wednesday (02/11) in the Mediterranean between Libya and Italy.


These latest tragedies bring the grim tally of migrant deaths in 2016 to 4,220, making this already the deadliest year ever recorded. In 2015 some 3,770 migrants and refugees died trying to cross the Mediterranean.

The 27 survivors and 12 corpses, among them 3 children, from the first shipwreck, were brought to the island of Lampedusa by two Italian Coast Guard ships. The survivors informed IOM staff that there were also 6 children and 18 women, some of them pregnant, on board. Three survivors were hospitalized with one of them in very bad condition. This shipwreck claimed therefore approximately 113 victims – these include the missing migrants and retrieved corpses.

Together with the 27 survivors of this shipwreck, the Italian Coast Guard ships also brought to Lampedusa two other survivors from another shipwreck – two women saved during a second rescue operation. They told IOM staff that this second shipwreck occurred on Wednesday (02/11), around 5 am. The women said they were travelling on a rubber dinghy carrying 130 people and the number of missing migrants is around 128.

“The increase in the number of victims compared to last year is linked to two different factors,” said Federico Soda, Director of the IOM’s Coordination Office for the Mediterranean in Rome. “First, there were three large shipwrecks at the end of April and May, which affected hundreds of people who were travelling on three flimsy boats. These caused almost 1,400 deaths. This past month has also been extremely tragic. It claimed the lives of more than 250 people last week and 240 yesterday.”

“October is generally a month of bad sea conditions, which inevitably cause more incidents. In Italy, we saw a new record for arrivals in October – 27,388 this year, compared to 8,915 in 2015 and 15,264 in 2014. With a larger number of boats, there is also a higher risk of shipwrecks,” he added.

IOM Italy spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo said the reason for the increase in migrant arrivals in October might be partly explained by the testimony of survivors. “The migrants who reach Italy have been telling us that smugglers have been telling them that the Libyan Coast Guard is being trained to carry out more rescues at sea. In a couple of months migrants who choose to undertake the sea crossing will be more likely to be rescued by the Libyan Coast Guard and brought back to Libya.” 

Di Giacomo added that although these testimonies need to be verified, many migrants have told IOM that this is why there is a rush to depart now. “Basically migrants do not want to be taken back to Libya, where they risk falling back into the vicious cycle of violence and abuse that they are fleeing.”

Although there was a significant peak in migrant arrivals in Italy in October, the overall number of arrivals has only increased by 13 percent compared to last year and is in line with 2014 totals.

The range of nationalities has changed, with fewer arrivals from the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. The number of Western Africans nationals has increased.

“The migration plans of the West Africans often change as they travel from place to place. There are many who only wanted to migrate to Libya to work, but later attempted the sea crossing to Europe to flee the abuses and violence they experienced there,” Soda said.

“Another new trend compared to a couple of years ago is that more migrants who arrive by sea now wish to stay in Italy and do not plan to continue their journey towards Northern Europe,” he noted.

Meanwhile IOM reports that 335,031 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 through 2 November, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy. Some 169,901 people have arrived in Greece and 159,496 in Italy during 2016.

This overall total of 335,031 migrant arrivals so far, is well below the number of arrivals at this point in 2015. Some 728,926 migrants and refugees made the journey between 1 January and 31 October 2015.

In Greece, 96 migrant arrivals by sea were registered on 29 October and 2 November on the Greek islands of Lesvos, Rhodes, Samos and Megisti.

Total arrivals by sea and deaths in the Mediterranean 2015-2016


1 January – 2 November 2016

1 January – 31 October 2015








(Central Med. route)


(all Med routes)



(Eastern Med. route)






(as of 30 September)

(Western Med route)







Data on deaths of migrants compiled by IOM GMDAC.  All numbers are minimum estimates.
Arrivals based on data from respective governments and IOM field offices.

For the latest Mediterranean Update infographic:\docs\Mediterranean_Update_4_November_2016.pdf
For latest arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean, please visit:
Learn more about Missing Migrants Project at:

For further information please contact:
Flavio Di Giacomo at IOM Italy, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email: 
IOM Greece: Daniel Esdras, Tel: +30 210 9912174, Email: or Kelly Namia, Tel: +30 210 9919040, +30 210 9912174, Email: 
Julia Black at IOM GMDAC, Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email:
Itayi Viriri at IOM Geneva, Tel: +41 79 285 4366, Email:
IOM Libya: Othman Belbeisi, Tel: +216 29 600389, Email:  or Ashraf Hassan, Tel: +216297 94707, Email:

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