Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 1,159; Deaths at Sea: 27

Switzerland - IOM reports that 1,159 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017, through 12 January, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy, compared with 22,590 through the first 12 days of January, 2016.

A year ago, IOM reported 22,322 migrants and refugees had landed on Greece’s islands after short runs from Turkey – a number consistent with the surge of Turkey-to-Europe passages that began the previous summer. This year through 12 January, IOM Athens reports that only 430 migrants from Turkey have landed in Greece.

Arrivals in Italy, while also quite low, are running slightly ahead of 2016’s totals this winter. IOM Rome reports 729 migrant arrivals in Italy from North Africa in 2017, compared to 268 at this time last year. Deaths recorded at sea so far in 2017 total 27 – compared with 64 through the first 12 days of 2016 – based on a report this morning that 14 bodies were found off Libya Thursday.

“This report is rather alarming,” said Julia Black of IOM’s Missing Migrants Project in Berlin. “Bodies washing up in Libya is something we often see preceded by a large shipwreck in the Central Mediterranean."

Mediterranean Developments

Total arrivals by sea and deaths in the Mediterranean 2016-2017

1 January – 11 January 2017

1 January – 12 January 2016

 Country of Arrival







(Central Med. route)


9 (Central Med. route)



(Eastern Med. route)


(Eastern Med. route)







(Western Med. route)



Estimated Total





IOM Rome reported that of the 181,436 migrants arriving in Italy in 2016, the largest number came from Nigeria – 37,551 or more than 20 percent of total arrivals. Of these, 11,700 were women and children. Just over 3,000 were unaccompanied minors.

Eritreans were the second largest group at 20,718, including 3,832 unaccompanied minors – the largest child contingent from any sending country on this route. Despite the high number, this is the lowest total from Eritrea in three years (see chart below).

Eritrea was the top country of origin for arrivals in Italy in 2015, with 39,162, and the second largest – after Syria – in 2014, when 34,329 Eritreans sailed to Italy from North Africa. Between the years 2014-2016 Italian authorities recorded a total of 94,209 Eritrean migrants arriving by sea.

IOM Rome also reported a steep decline in the number of Syrian migrants risking the central Mediterranean route from North Africa. From a high of 42,323 in 2014, Syrian arrivals in Italy fell to 7,448 in 2015 and just 1,200 in 2016.

“We saw very little evidence that Syrians, who were disembarking from Turkey in 2015, returned to the North African route last year,” said IOM Rome spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo. “It is quite possible those few who did come on this route in 2016 were already based in Egypt, Jordan or elsewhere in the region.”

Among other surprising statistics reported by IOM Rome this week: arrivals in Italy from the Gambia (11,929), Cote d’Ivoire (12,396) and Guinea (13,342) all topped 10,000 in 2016. The three West African countries also sent a combined total of over 4,000 unaccompanied minors.

Other sending countries with at least 10,000 of their citizens rescued between Libya and Italy in 2016 included Senegal and Mali.

The only non-African sending country among the top ten on this route was Bangladesh, with 8,131 migrants rescued in 2016. Of these, over 1,000 were unaccompanied minors, but only five were women.

The total number of unaccompanied minors rescued on the central Mediterranean route in 2016 was 25,846.  The total number of women was 24,133.

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: 
Sabine Schneider at IOM Germany, Tel: +49 30 278 778 17 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:
Mazen Aboulhosn at IOM Turkey, Tel: +9031245-51202, 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: