Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 11,636 in 2018; Deaths Reach 462
Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 11,636 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea through the first ten weeks of 2018, with just under 48 per cent arriving in Italy and the remainder divided between Greece (29%) Spain (23%) and Cyprus (less than 1%). This compares with 20,151 arrivals across the region through the same period last year.
IOM Rome’s Flavio Di Giacomo said Monday that over the weekend Italian and international ships patrolling waters between Libya and Italy rescued 373 migrants in five separate operations. The majority of those rescued are Western African nationals. On Monday they arrived in Italy: 93 taken to Pozzallo by the NGO OpenArms, while 274 reached Augusta on board the ship Aquarius (NGO SOS Mediterranée).
Among these survivors were a 14-year-old Libyan boy suffering from leukaemia. He arrived with an older brother and cousin, 23 and 31 years old, after the three embarked in the hopes of receiving treatment for his illness.
According to information IOM staff collected at the landing point, the three young men managed to leave Libya a few days ago using a small dinghy, loaded with petrol cans. After six hours at sea the ship of the NGO OpenArms sighted their vessel. When they approached the boat, rescuers found the child traveling with an IV attached to his arm.
The three were then transferred onto the Aquarius and, upon arriving at Augusta, they received immediate assistance.
Di Giacomo added that, according to Ministry of Interior figures, 5,566 irregular migrants have arrived by sea to Italy this year: or barely one third the figure at this time last year, when 15,843 migrant men, women and children were brought to Italy after being rescued in the waters north of Africa. Through 11 March Italy arrivals are averaging fewer than 80 persons per day (see chart below).
IOM’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP) reported Monday that deaths on the Central Mediterranean route – 462 as of March 11 – were down some 14 per cent below their total at this same time in 2017, when 536 migrants had been counted as drowned or missing in the waters between North Africa and Italy.
Although authorities reported no new deaths at sea since an incident on 3 March, the Missing Migrants Project added 20 new victims to the Central Mediterranean route’s mortality lists after receiving information from Libya on Maritime Rescues and fatalities recorded through the end of February.
Over the course of last month, IOM Libya’s Christine Petré reported a total of 34 bodies had been retrieved from Libya’s coastal beaches, while 375 migrants had been rescued or intercepted at sea during that time.
IOM Libya's Ms. Petré also reported Monday 21 migrants (all men) were returned to Libyan shores by the Libyan Coast Guard after having embarked from Sabratha on a small rubber boat. These migrants were returned to Abu Sitta, near Tripoli. The migrants received first aid plus medical consultations from IOM staff at the disembarkation point; first aid also was provided to five migrants suffering from mild petrol burns, mild skin infections, musculoskeletal pain and headaches.
As the sole humanitarian actor at the site, IOM also provided food before the migrants were transferred to Tajoura detention centre. One minor (a 16 year-old male) was identified among the group. IOM is following up on necessary protection measures. No emergency cases were reported; no bodies were retrieved.
IOM Athens’ Kelly Namia on Monday said that over four days ending 10 March, the Hellenic Coast Guard reported at least four incidents requiring search and rescue operations off the island of Lesvos and Samos. The Coast Guard rescued 175 migrants and transferred them to those islands.
An additional 226 arrivals during those days to the islands of Kos, Samos, Rhodes and Lesvos brings the total number of sea arrivals to Greek territory through 10 March to 3,374 (see chart below) – an average of around 48 persons per day.
IOM Spain’s Ana Dodevska reported that total arrivals by sea in 2018 have reached 2,659 men, women and children who have been rescued in Western Mediterranean waters through 11 March.
Worldwide, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has recorded 733 migrant fatalities in 2018, compared with 1,044 through 11 March last year (see chart below).
Most recently, two people lost their lives on the US/Mexico border. On 11 March, one migrant drowned when crossing the Río Bravo from Coahuila to Texas. His body was retrieved by Mexican civil protection authorities near El Saucito. On the same day, US Border Patrol agents found the remains of a migrant in Sunland Park, near the Santa Teresa port of entry in New Mexico.
In the first ten weeks of 2018, at least 48 migrants have died while crossing the US/Mexico border, compared to 81 recorded at this same date last year. Border fatality statistics usually are not completed until the end of a calendar month, when forensics officials in US border counties in Texas and Arizona release their data. This year’s March total, then, is expected to rise.
MMP data are compiled by IOM staff but come from a variety of sources, some of which are unofficial. To learn more about how data on missing migrants are collected, click here.
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