Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 135,937 in 2017; Deaths Reach 2,655

Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 135,937 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through 27 September, with over 75 per cent arriving in Italy and the remainder divided between Greece, Cyprus and Spain. This compares with 302,803 arrivals across the region through the same period last year.

IOM Rome reported on Thursday (28 September) that, according to official figures of the Italian Ministry of Interior, 104,082 migrants arrived by sea to Italy this year, or some 21.5 per cent fewer than last year in the same period.


IOM Libya’s Christine Petré reported that on 27 September, 228 migrants (including 172 men, 30 women and 26 children) using two rubber boats were rescued/intercepted at sea off Tripoli by the Libyan Coast Guard. Included among the 26 children were 14 unaccompanied minors. These migrants were transferred to Tajoura detention centre where IOM is distributing non-food aid, including mattresses, pillows and cleaning supplies. The majority of the migrants came from Morocco, Mali and Cote d’Ivoire, Petré said, adding that thus far in 2017, 18,127 migrants have been rescued/intercepted in Libyan waters.

IOM Spain’s Ana Dodevska reported Thursday (28 September) that 958 migrants have arrived by sea this month. Sea arrivals have been recorded by Spanish authorities, marking a sharp drop from the numbers arriving in July and August (see chart below), while the total for now has reached 11,861 – compared with just over 8,000 for all of 2016.

IOM Spain also released a chart listing nearly 50 separate incidents of sea rescues this month (chart here), few with as many as 50 arrivals, and several with many in the single digits.

IOM Athens’ Kelly Namia on Thursday reported a rescue operation off the coast of Megisti of six migrants (one male adult, two women and three children) while reporting the death of one victim, a nine-year-old girl. Nearby, off the coast of Kastellorizo Island, 20 more migrants (13 men, two women and five children) were identified by the Hellenic Coast Guard and transferred to the island.
She added that according to the Hellenic Coast Guard, there were at least three other incidents off the islands of Lesvos and Samos this week that required search and rescue operations. The Hellenic Coast Guard managed to rescue 87 migrants and transferred them to those two islands.

Namia further reported that migrant arrivals to the Greek islands total 4,125 for the first 26 days of September, making this month 2017’s busiest on the Eastern Mediterranean Sea route. (See chart below.)

Thus far a total of 19,195 migrants this year have entered Greece by sea, which remains only about 10 per cent of last year’s total arrivals and just 2 per cent of 2015’s surge.

The death of the child near Megisti brings to nine the number of migrants confirmed dead on the Mediterranean’s eastern route since the end of April. Another 38 fatalities from a voyage originating in Turkey, but entering the Black Sea, were recorded by IOM’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP) last week, bringing the 2017 total for all deaths by sea in the area to 84. By comparison, nearly 350 men, women and children drowned on eastern sea routes through this same date in 2016.

So far in 2017, 2,471 migrants have been reported lost at sea on the Central Mediterranean route – compared to 3,055 during the same period last year – and 138 on the Western Mediterranean route linking North Africa to Spain. Last year through this date 116 migrants were reported lost on this route, and 128 for the entire year. (See chart below.)


Worldwide, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP) has recorded 4,439 migrant fatalities in 2017 as of 28 September. Since last week, MMP recorded seven deaths in the Middle East: three Afghans and one Syrian died in two separate terrorist attacks near Turkey’s southeastern borders, one Afghan died in a car accident in Iran, and two Syrian children died while attempting to cross the Syrian-Turkish border. (See chart below.)

On the US/Mexico border, one migrant drowned while crossing the Río Bravo in Reynosa, Mexico. Last Saturday, 23 September, one Indonesian woman died after a boat capsized off the coast of Tanjung Balau Johor Bahru in Malaysia.

MMP recorded another incident in Southeast Asia: one boat carrying Rohingya migrants fleeing Myanmar capsized off the coast of Bangladesh on 28 September. Nine children, five women and one man died, 17 were rescued (of which 10 remain hospitalized), and 68 are feared dead. Nearly one month into a mass exodus of people fleeing violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, dozens have died while fleeing to Bangladesh: IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has recorded 161 fatalities since 31 August.

MMP received survey data collected by the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat’s Mixed Migration Monitoring Mechanism Initiative (4Mi) in Libya between May and September 2017. The 4Mi project interviews migrants in transit and includes questions on deaths witnessed during their journey. From the findings of the 4Mi surveys in Libya, MMP recorded 97 additional deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa and 102 in North Africa between May and September 2017.

Latest Mediterranean Update infographic: 
For latest arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean, please visit:
Learn more about the Missing Migrants Project at:
For more information, please contact:

Joel Millman at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 79 103 8720, Email:
Mircea Mocanu, IOM Romania, Tel:  +40212115657, Email:
Dimitrios Tsagalas, IOM Cyprus, Tel: + 22 77 22 70, E-mail:
Flavio Di Giacomo, IOM Italy, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email:
Kelly Namia, IOM Greece, Tel: +30 210 991 2174, Email:
Julia Black, IOM GMDAC, Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email:
Christine Petré, IOM Libya, Tel: +216 29 240 448, Email:
Ana Dodevska, IOM Spain, Tel: +34 91 445 7116, Email: