Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 149,159 in 2017; Deaths Reach 2,824

Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 149,159 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through 25 October, with about 75 per cent arriving in Italy and the remainder divided between Greece, Cyprus and Spain. This compares with 332,326 arrivals across the region through the same period last year.

IOM Rome reported Thursday (26/10) that official figures from Italy’s Ministry of the Interior indicate a total of 111,240 migrants have arrived in Italy by sea this year – a drop in annual totals from this time last year by nearly 30 per cent.

IOM Athens’ Kelly Namia reported Thursday of one incident occurring off the island of Kos that required a search and rescue operation. The Hellenic Coast Guard rescued 25 migrants and transferred them to that island.
Nearly 12,000 men, women and children have entered Greece by sea from waters of the Eastern Mediterranean since 1 August, or more migrants than have entered during all of 2017’s first seven months.

Namia further reported that 198 migrants or refugees entered Greece by sea in three days from 22-24 October, bringing migrant sea arrivals to Greek territory to 3,385 with a week left in October, and 23,059 for the year so far. (See chart below.)

Moreover, Turkish authorities this week reported new data on apprehensions of migrants at sea occurring in Turkish waters. IOM Turkey’s Abby Dwommoh reported that Coast Guard officials have intercepted over 3,400 migrants during the month of September, turning them back to land. They intercepted just over 2,600 in August – for a total of some 6,000 migrants during these two late summer months. For the year, through the first nine months, Turkish authorities have intercepted 15,470 migrants along their shores.

“In some cases, rescued persons may continue to try to cross and some, we know, do make it to Greece. However, not all do,” explained Dwommoh. “Following rescue, Syrians (the largest group crossing) are registered in Turkey before they are ‘let free.’ With non-Syrians, the Turkish Coast Guard generally takes them to removal centres, unless the migrant has claimed asylum.”

IOM Libya’s Christine Petré reported Thursday (26 October) that between 7 and 24 October, 430 men, women and children were intercepted in Libyan waters – and the remains of 37 victims retrieved.  Of those rescued, 48 were children.
So far this year, IOM Libya reports 18,835 migrants have been rescued/intercepted in Libyan waters, with over 10,000 brought back to land since 1 June. (See chart below.)

Worldwide, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP) has recorded the deaths of 4,826 people migrating in 2017 through 26 October – an increase of just over 400 since 3 October, the month’s first MMP update shared with media, when IOM reported worldwide fatalities of 4,425. That means over the last 23 days, an average of just over 17 migrants have perished every 24 hours.

That’s one more migrant death per day than the year’s average determined by dividing 4,826 migrants killed or missing since 1 January with 296 days so far in 2017. “It’s important to note that, despite nearly 1,000 fewer deaths on the Mediterranean compared with last year – and a steep drop off in fatal shipwrecks since early summer – migrants still are dying by the dozens every week,” said Joel Millman, an IOM spokesman in Geneva. “Not just those coming to Europe, but within Europe, and across Southeast Asia, Africa and the Americas.”

IOM’s MMP update for the Central Mediterranean includes the remains of 37 people recovered off Libya in recent weeks: 28 bodies retrieved near Al-Khums on 13 October; one body found in Al Maya on 19 October; the remains of eight victims found near Al Khums on 22 October.

In the Western Mediterranean, one North African man died on 26 October when he fell from a truck he was riding precariously as the vehicle was boarding a ferry bound for mainland Spain via the Port of Melilla. These deaths bring total fatalities in the Mediterranean region to 2,824 in 2017 – compared with 3,810 deaths recorded at this point in 2016.

In Central America, this week, the death of a Honduran migrant was recorded on 22 October, after a train accident in southern Mexico. Additionally, the remains of a 45-year-old migrant from the Dominican Republic were found inside a boat near Rincón, Puerto Rico on 22 October.

On the US/Mexico border, MMP added newly received, cumulative data issued by the Webb County, Texas, Office of the Medical Examiner on human remains found across several border counties this year. So far in 2017, 316 bodies have been found on the US-Mexico border, 58 on Mexico’s side, and 258 bodies – or nearly one per day – recovered north of the border, mainly in Texas and Arizona. 

Missing Migrants Project 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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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:
Abby Dwommoh, IOM Turkey, Tel: +90 312 454 3048, Email:
Christine Petré, IOM Libya, Tel: +216 29 240 448, Email:
Ana Dodevska, IOM Spain, Tel: +34 91 445 7116, Email:
Myriam Chabbi, IOM Tunisia, Mobile: +216 28 78 78 05, Tel: +216 71 860 312 ext 109, Email: