Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals: 44,209; Deaths: 1,096

Switzerland - IOM, the UN Migration Agency reports that 44,209 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through 3 May, with the vast majority arriving in Italy and the rest in Greece, Cyprus and Spain. This compares with 184,741 arrivals through 3 May 2016.

IOM learned this week that, after a brief lull following a surge of boat traffic leaving Libya in mid-April, rescue efforts – and reported deaths of migrants – picked up sharply in the Sicilian Channel. IOM Libya’s Christine Petré said on Thursday (4 May) that Libyan media reported on the remains of 19 migrants said to have been recovered by fishermen off the coast near the city of Subratah. Additionally, she said IOM has confirmed the recovery of another body in Eastern Libya near Tobruk, whose discovery was confirmed on 26 April.

IOM Rome’s Flavio Di Giacomo reported this week the remains of at least six migrants or refugees were recovered during an operation carried out by the MSF ship Prudence. IOM also learned from social media on Thursday of an ongoing rescue of two heavily loaded wooden vessels in nearby waters. Rescuers tweeting from their vessels showed photographs of at least two passengers with gunshot wounds. One of the victims was reported dead.

IOM’s Missing Migrants Project is still waiting for confirmation for many of those deaths. Therefore today’s Mediterranean fatalities total  –  1,096  –  should be considered a low estimate. Judging from the information received this week, IOM estimates at least 120 more fatalities are likely, which would bring this year’s total through 3 May to over 1,200 – or just short of the 1,379 deaths recorded in the Mediterranean at this time in 2016.

Last year’s totals include nearly 340 more deaths on the Eastern Mediterranean route linking Turkey to Greece than have occurred this year. Meanwhile deaths on the Central Mediterranean route linking North Africa to Italy are running at a pace of over 120 ahead of last year – or an average of one more migrant death per day.

In terms of arrivals, IOM Rome said, through the month of April, this year’s total arrivals to Italy were at 37,034 (see chart below), which is 10,000 arrivals more than either 2016 or 2015. On average, this year’s migration flow from North Africa comes to about 310 men, women and children per day – compared with 218 per day in 2015 and 232 per day last year.


IOM Rome also issued a statement concerning acts of vandalism that occurred Thursday (04/05) at some of its facilities. He said "The IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean witnessed today an incident of vandalism by Italian right-wing movement Forza Nuova." He added, "Some demonstrators occupied the outdoor space of the IOM Mission in Rome, after hanging a banner at the entrance with a slogan against NGOs that carry out life-saving search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean. The demonstrators set off smoke devices and kept shouting slogans against migration, and even mocked one of our migrant beneficiaries who was arriving at the IOM office."

IOM Director General, William Lacy Swing said: "We deplore today’s attacks on IOM's offices in Rome by some misguided individuals. This incidence of vandalism highlights the dangerous spread of xenophobia and the need to combat the toxic anti-migration narrative with sound, sensible policies to manage the growing challenge of managing migration across the Mediterranean."

IOM Athens reported on Thursday that total sea arrivals to Greece through 3 May stand at 5,316 – an average of 44 per day since the start of the year. In recent days, IOM Athens has begun to observe signs traffic may again be picking up. This week IOM reports the Hellenic Coast Guard managed at least two search and rescue operations resulting in some 65 migrants being brought to Lesvos. On Monday, IOM learned 116 migrants arrived by sea on the island of Chios while on Wednesday 90 landed on Lesvos.

Worldwide, the IOM Missing Migrants Project reports that there have been 1,668 fatalities through 3 May (see chart below) with the Mediterranean region accounting for the largest proportion of deaths – about two thirds of the global total. At least eight persons were believed drowned off the coast of the Dominican Republic, bringing to 89 the total of Caribbean drownings this year – or 50 more than were recorded through all of 2016.

The Missing Migrants Project also reported the discovery of eight dehydrated victims in the desert near the Niger-Libya border. Five of those victims were children.

For the latest Mediterranean Update infographic:

For latest arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean, please visit:

Learn more about the Missing Migrants Project at:

For further information please contact:
Joel Millman at IOM Geneva, Tel: +41 79 103 8720, Email:
Flavio Di Giacomo at IOM Italy, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email:
IOM Greece: Kelly Namia Tel: +30 210 99.12.174, Email or Daniel Esdras, Tel: +30 210 9912174, Email:
Julia Black at IOM GMDAC, Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email:
IOM Libya: Othman Belbeisi, Tel: +216 29 600389, Email:  or Christine Petré, Tel. (Direct):  +216 29 240 448, Email: or Ashraf Hassan, Tel: +216 29 794707, Email:

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