Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals in 2016 Approach 150,000; Deaths Reach 455

Greece - Through March 10, 2016, IOM reports arrivals of migrants and refugees to Italy and Greece via Mediterranean Sea routes have topped 150,000, while deaths in the region now stand at 455, including four deaths in January in the waters between Spain and North Africa, recorded by IOM’s Missing Migrants Project.

It is important to note that, although traffic of migrants and refugees through Italian waters no longer comprises the principal flow – sea traffic to Greece dominates – arrivals to Italy this winter have been much more robust than during either of the previous two years. That’s an indication that the Libya-to-Italy route remains a preferred migrant path.  

Migrant deaths along the so-called Central Mediterranean route total 97 so far this year, a steep decline from the 428 recorded a year ago. Over 350 migrant deaths have been recorded so far this year in the waters between Turkey and Greece.

Through the end of February 2016, IOM reports over 9,100 arrivals to Italy, mainly from the countries of Sub Saharan Africa. Arrivals during these same two months of 2015 were just 7,882, while in January-February 2014, even fewer: 5,506.

In short, human smuggling along the Libya-to-Italy sea lanes is running 15 percent ahead of 2015, and 65 percent ahead of 2014’s first two months’ total.  The latest landing occurred Wednesday, when 115 migrants were brought to Lampedusa.

Moreover, Italian authorities report a different mix of migrants. Instead of Syrians and Eritreans, Nigerians are the largest group represented this year along the Central Mediterranean route, more than one in five of all migrants arriving.

“The number of Nigerians transiting Libya is on the rise,” said Othman Belbeisi, Chief of Mission of IOM Libya. His team will support the humanitarian repatriation of 172 stranded Nigerians today (11 March), a charter flight is scheduled to leave Tripoli for Lagos. 

Adds Flavio Di Giacomo, spokesperson for the IOM Coordinating Office for the Mediterranean: “A total of 406 Nigerian women arrived in Italy in the first 2 months of the year. According to IOM, about 80 percent are victims of trafficking.”

Through February, Nigerians have been arriving at a rate of 27 per day, compared to fewer than 10 daily during the same period last year. This winter saw a surge in Gambians (an average of 23 per day), Malians, Guineans (both about 13 per day) and Ivorians (12 per day).

One nationality whose number has declined: Somalis. Through February, 444 arrivals from Somalia have been recorded by Italian authorities. Last year at this time, the total was 1,088.

Arrivals to Greece continue with a daily average of some 2,000. Updated unofficial data of arrivals to Greece by sea since the start of 2015 now stands at over 985,000. At current levels of arrivals, IOM expects the total number of sea-borne migrants and refugees to Greece in the current emergency to reach the million-person mark by the end of next week.

IOM estimates some 80,460 migrants or refugees have landed on the island of Lesvos, 10,165 have reached the island of Samos, and approximately 30,000 migrants have crossed into Chios; some 8,200 reached Leros island.

According to the Greek authorities, 47 percent of newly arrived migrants are from Syria, 27 percent from Afghanistan, 17 percent from Iraq, 3 percent each from Iran from Pakistan.

Arrivals by sea and deaths in the Mediterranean 2015/2016

1Jan – 10 Mar 2016

1 Jan – 31 Mar 2015








354 (Eastern Med route)


505 (includes all Med routes)



101 (Central and Western Med route)


Estimated Total







Total 2014

Total 2015

1 Jan – 10 Mar 2016









  • 4,053 arrivals have been registered on 9 March 2016. Numbers are not the actual daily arrivals but the number of migrants who have officially been recorded by the Greek authorities after their arrival. This procedure may take a few days.
  • According to data collected by IOM Greece, migrants arriving by sea to Greece are approximately 44 percent adult male, 22 percent adult female and 34 percent children.


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Learn more about Missing Migrants Project at:

For further information, please contact Flavio Di Giacomo at IOM Italy, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email: 

Or Daniel Esdras at IOM Greece, Tel: +30 210 9912174 Email:

Or Kelly Namia, Tel: +302109919040, +302109912174, Email:

Or Emrah Guler at IOM Turkey, Tel: +903124541138, Email:

Or Othman Belbeisi at IOM Libya, Tel + 216 29 600 389, Email:

Or Maysa Khalil at IOM Tunisia, Tel.  +216 29 600 388 – Email: mkhalil

Or Ryan Schroeder at IOM RO Europe, Tel:  +32 2 287 71 16, Email: