Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 21,301 in 2019; Deaths Reach 519

Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration agency, reports that 21,301 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea through 29 May, roughly a one third decrease from the 32,070 arriving during the same period last year. Arrivals to both Spain and Greece account for 85% of all arrivals, with the balance arriving this year in Italy, Malta and Cyprus. 

Deaths recorded on the three main Mediterranean Sea routes through almost five months of 2019 are at 519 individuals—or less than four-fifths of the 662 deaths confirmed during the same period in 2018.  (see chart below) 

IOM Spain 

IOM Spain’s Ana Dodevska reported on Thursday (30/05) that sea arrivals in the Western Mediterranean are now at 7876 men, women and children through 29 May. That is close to the total for this same period last year when, through 2018’s first five months Spanish authorities tallied arrivals of 8150 irregular migrants by the Western Mediterranean route.  

With two days remaining to report arrivals for the month of May, irregular migration activity in these waters appears to have tapered off significantly after a fast start earlier this year.  May arrivals through 29 days are 1160, Ms. Dodevska reported, much fewer than the total arriving in May 2018, when 3523 entered Spain via this same route (see charts below).  

IOM Greece 

IOM Greece’s Christine Nikolaidou reported on Wednesday (29/05) that over 48 hours from 28-29 May, the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) confirmed seven incidents requiring search and rescue operation off the islands Lesvos, Leros, Samos, Symi Kos and the port of Alexandroupolis. The HCG rescued a total of 191 migrants and transferred them to the respective ports. 

Those arrivals, plus another 95 reported since 27 May, bring to 10,200 the total number of sea arrivals to Greece this year. Another 3,497 irregular migrants arrived through 30 April via Greece’s land border with Turkey (see charts 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 31,975 individuals, including 1,015 in 2019.   

In the Western Mediterranean, the NGO Alarm Phone reported that a young man from Cameroon went missing on 21 May. According to testimonies of the eight survivors who were travelling with him, he fell overboard before they were intercepted by the Moroccan Navy. His body was not recovered. Additionally, on 23 May the remains of a migrant, likely of Sub-Saharan African origin, washed ashore on the beach of Malabata, near Tangiers, Morocco. In the Central Mediterranean, migrants intercepted and returned to Libya on 23 May reported that five men drowned during their voyage. No further details regarding the identities, country of origin, or other personal information regarding the missing are available.  

This past week was marked by several tragedies in different regions of the world. On the US-Mexico border, five people drowned trying to cross the Río Bravo/Rio Grande separating the Mexican states of Tamaulipas and Coahuila from Texas. On 23 May, US Border Patrol agents recovered the remains of a man from the banks of the river near the Eagle Pass Port of Entry. Mexican authorities have recovered the bodies of four men between 23 and 27 May near Díaz Ordaz and Guardado de Abajo, in Tamaulipas. Only one has been identified: a 27-year-old Mexican national. These latest tragedies bring to 43 the number of lives lost recorded by the MMP team in the Río Bravo since the beginning of 2019.  

Two deaths were recorded of migrants transiting through Mexico: a 36-year-old Cuban national died of a heart attack in Mexico City on 25 May. The day before, a young woman aged between 25 and 30 years old lost her life when she was hit by a train near Sabinas, in Coahuila, Mexico. MMP records show that at least 60 people have died while transiting through Mexico since the beginning of 2019. At least 32 people died in vehicle accidents, while train-related injuries account for 13 deaths recorded this year. Ten more deaths can be attributed to violence (including murder and kidnapping), and three to sickness and lack of access to medicines.  

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.

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