Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals in 2016: 184,546; Deaths: 1357
Greece - IOM reports an estimated 184,546 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea in 2016, arriving in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain, through 1 May.
Latest fatalities stand at 1,357, which includes reports of several deadly shipwrecks off Libya’s coast since Friday (29 April). The fatalities are estimated as 113 men, women and children, according to witnesses who spoke to IOM staffers after arriving in Italy at Catania, Pozzallo, Lampedusa and Trapani.
By comparison, deaths in 2015 through the end of April on all Mediterranean routes totaled 1,733 – 27 percent more than this year. Arrivals through April 30 this year totaled 184,546 compared to 52,750 during the same four-month period in 2015.
IOM Rome spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo reports that on Friday a rubber dinghy was rescued by an Italian commercial ship, the “Villa Bianca,” a few hours after its departure from Sabrata, Libya.
“The dinghy was taking in water and was in a very bad condition. Many people had already fallen into sea and drowned, but 26 people were rescued,” he said. The survivors were subsequently transferred to two Italian Coast Guard ships which then brought them to Lampedusa.
The migrants told IOM staff on Lampedusa that there were 110 people on board, suggesting that 84 are still missing. According to the survivors’ testimony, sea conditions were very bad, with high waves. As the dinghy began to take on water ten people went overboard, followed by many others within minutes.
The migrants reportedly came from West Africa; among the 26 rescued are at least 2 women and 5 unaccompanied minors (16-17 years old). IOM learned that a woman with a new-born baby drowned. Another Nigerian girl (a minor) told IOM that she had lost her sister.
According to information gathered by IOM staff in Pozzallo and Catania, more lives were lost at sea during the weekend: 20 migrants drowned while crossing the Channel of Sicily on a rubber dinghy. Two bodies were recovered. Survivors of that wreck total 97.
Rescued migrants brought to Trapani on Saturday said that three people fell into the sea from their dinghy. They also said that one person had been shot by smugglers on the beach in Libya before they departed. Three others had gunshot wounds.
Migrants arriving in Catania on 29 April told IOM that nine people in their dinghy fell into the water and drowned.
IOM estimates that the total number of arrivals in Italy since January is now 28,593. As of 30 April, the number of migrants arriving in Italy was 27,890. Last year, on 30 April 2015, arrivals stood at 26,228.
Numbers are therefore more or less in line with last year. For the moment, the closure of the Balkan route and the EU/Turkey deal has not had a major effect on the Central Mediterranean route. Syrians are not among the nationalities registered this year in Italy, with most of the migrants coming from Western Africa and the Horn of Africa.
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