Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 18,364 in 2019; Deaths Reach 508

Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports that 18,364 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea through 15 May, approximately a 30 per cent decrease from the 26,016 arriving during the same period last year. Arrivals to both Spain and Greece account for almost 87 per cent of all arrivals, with the balance arriving this year in Italy, Malta and Cyprus.  

Arrivals to Greece are the highest of any destination this year, yet lower in 2019 than those at this time last year by about 10 per cent. Arrivals to Spain are higher at this point in the year than they were a year ago, although Spain’s rate of arrival for this year has fallen considerably since the surge of January and early February, from just over 85 persons per day during the first two months of 2019 to under 40 per day in April and May. 

Deaths recorded on the three main Mediterranean Sea routes through 135 days of 2019 are at 508 individuals – or almost four-fifths of the 638 deaths confirmed during the same period in 2018 (see chart below).

Mediterranean Developments

IOM Spain 

IOM Spain’s Ana Dodevska reported on Thursday (15/05) that sea arrivals in the Western Mediterranean are now at 7,317 men, women and children through 08 May. While that is almost 2,000 more arrivals to Spain through this same time last year, the IOM office notes arrivals in the month of May are at just 601 through mid-month, or just one sixth of the nearly 3,600 arriving during May 2018 (see chart below).  

IOM Greece 

IOM Greece’s Christine Nikolaidou noted on Thursday (16/05) that from Friday (10/05) to date, the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) reported at least fifteen incidents requiring search and rescue operation off the islands of Chios, Lesvos, Samos, Alexandroupoli, Farmakonisi, Symi and Kos. The HCG rescued a total of 539 migrants and transferred them to those respective ports.  

Those arrivals were among some 782 IOM recorded as arrivals to those islands – as well as to Ikaria and several smaller islands – between 09 May and 15 May, and which bring to 8,621 the total number of sea arrivals to Greece this year (see chart below). 

Missing Migrants Project 

2019 is the sixth year of IOM’s efforts to systematically record deaths on migration routes worldwide through its Missing Migrants Project. Since the beginning of 2014, the project has recorded the deaths of 31,910 individuals, including 953 in 2019 (see chart below). 

Due to the challenges of collecting information about these people and the contexts of their deaths, the true number of lives lost during migration is likely much higher. Missing Migrants Project records should only be viewed as indicative of the risks associated with migration, rather than representative of the true number of deaths across time or geography.  

In the past week on the Mediterranean, there have been two shipwrecks. On Friday, 10 May, a boat carrying 75 people from Libya capsized off the coast of Kerkennah, Tunisia. Only 16 people survived. Three bodies were recovered from the shipwreck: one man from Bangladesh, and two unidentified persons presumed to be from sub-Saharan Africa. The survivors reported that 46 Bangladeshis remain lost at sea, as are eight Moroccans and two Egyptians.  

In the Eastern Mediterranean, a smaller boat sank off the coast of Chekka, Lebanon while attempting to reach Cyprus. The three survivors, all from Syria, report that five of their countrymen remain missing.  

In the Western Mediterranean, a body was found near the El Palmar and Mangueta beaches in Spain last Thursday, though this is believed to be the person reported missing by 24 Northern Africans who were intercepted in the same area on the previous day. 

Two other shipwrecks claimed the lives of migrants in other regions of the world since the last update. On Tuesday (7 May), on a beach in Tinajo, Lanzarote, in the Spanish Canary Islands, the remains of a Moroccan man were found. He is presumed to have been traveling with a group of around one dozen migrants from Western Africa. He has yet to be identified.  

In Southeast Asia, a boat carrying Indonesian migrants capsized off the coast of the Malaysian Batam Islands, leaving one dead and three missing at sea.  

Since the last Missing Migrants Project update on 10 May, another five individuals lost their lives pursuing new lives in the United States. Most of the deceased came from Honduras and Guatemala.  

On Tuesday, two children lost their lives due to sickness and lack of access to medicine during their journey. A two-year-old Guatemalan boy died of pneumonia in an American hospital; he had been placed in emergency care immediately after he arrived in El Paso with his family. On that same day, a 12-year-old boy from Honduras died of intestinal problems in a hospital in Tlaxcala, Mexico.  

During the past week two men died on their journeys north through Mexico, killed on the notorious freight trains used by migrants – nicknamed la Bestia or "the Beast."  

One unidentified migrant died after being decapitated by la Bestia in Ramos Arizpe in the Mexican state of Coahuila on Monday (13 May). A 43-year-old Guatemalan man was killed the previous Saturday on the train tracks near Achotal in the state of Veracruz. Two fellow-travellers were severely mutilated after being struck by the same train. Another Guatemalan man was violently killed in Chiapas, Mexico on Wednesday, 8 May. 

To date, at least 267 people have lost their lives in the Americas in 2019, compared with 184 recorded through this point in 2018.    

Missing Migrants Project data are compiled by IOM staff based at its Global Migration Data Analysis Centre but come from a variety of sources, some of which are unofficial. To learn more about how data on migrants’ deaths and disappearances are collected, click here. For latest arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean, click here. Learn more about the Missing Migrants Project.  

See contacts here