Half a Million Migrants Cross Mediterranean, While Almost 3,000 Die So Far in 2015
United Nations - A record half a million migrants have crossed the Mediterranean so far in 2015, many of them women and children fleeing war in Syria and seeking asylum in the European Union, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said today. Tragically almost 3,000 migrants and refugees fleeing war and poverty perished in these journeys, most from drowning after their flimsy craft succumbed to the waves.
Speaking from United Nations headquarters in New York, where Pope Francis had just delivered a historic address to the General Assembly, IOM Director General William Lacy Swing said: "Of course half a million arrivals and three thousand deaths, by themselves are merely statistics. But when we think of what these statistics mean - lives tragically lost and families separated forever from loved ones and unable to come to closure; education, careers and dreams abandoned. We mourn for the victims and for our entire shared humanity."
The number of migrants, including refugees seeking asylum, who have arrived in Europe by sea so far in 2015 reached 498,931 according to official numbers and according to IOM analysis has already passed half a million. This figure is more than double the amount of arrivals in the Mediterranean for the entire 2014 and many migrants remain on the road, without adequate shelter or protection as winter approaches. Their future is also uncertain as the arrivals are far greater than the numbers of refugees the European Union has committed to resettle.
The vast majority of new migrant arrivals were registered in Greece (374,232 people, approximately 70% of all 2015 arrivals and up 40,000 in less than a month). This is followed by Italy (128,542 people, under 30% of all 2015 arrivals).
Based on latest information received from Hellenic Police on the various Greek islands with the highest inflows, approximately 60,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Greece since the beginning of September. The expected arrival of bad weather in the Aegean Sea and Straits of Lampedusa has contributed to the significant jump in the numbers prompting more migrants and refugees to attempt the crossings to Greece and Italy before winter sets in.
Greece is a jumping off point for migrants seeking to enter the EU. Now that the land border with Hungary has been blocked by a fence and police action migrants are seeking other route through the Balkans. IOM reports that 8 500 people passed through Croatia today on their way to Germany and other destinations in the EU. Some 55,000 have entered Croatia since the beginning of the crisis.
Since mid-June IOM teams in former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) have recorded 94,842 arrivals from Greece, over 40,000 of those in just over one month since August 22, when registration at the Gevgalja reception center on the FYRoM border with Greece was fully computerized. Prior to that date, all registration was done by hand.
IOM teams have permanently deployed at key landing points in Italy (Lampedusa, Sicily and the Southern mainland) and in Greece (on the islands of Samos, Kos, Rhodes and Lesvos) staff supports local authorities in the management of migration flows to the two countries.
For the latest data on arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean, please visit Missing Migrants Project: http://missingmigrants.iom.int
For further information, please contact:
Leonard Doyle, IOM spokesperson in New York +451 79 285 7123 firstname.lastname@example.org
Joel Millman IOM HQ Geneva, Tel: + 41 79 103 8720, Email: email@example.com
Flavio Di Giacomo at IOM Italy, Tel: +39 0644 186 207, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel Esdras at IOM Greece: Tel: +30 210 9912174 Email: email@example.com
Itayi Viriri at IOM HQ, Tel: + 41 79 285 43 66, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel Szabo at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 76 768 7703, Email: email@example.com