Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 21,981 in 2018; Deaths Reach 606

Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 21,981 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea through the first 17 weeks of 2018, or the first third of the year. About 43 percent of all arrivals are to Italy, with the remainder divided between Greece (37%) and Spain (20%). This compares with 44,625 arrivals across the region through the same period last year, and around 200,000 at this time in 2016.

In other words: Mediterranean arrivals at this point in 2018 are running at under half last year’s level on this date, and about 10% of 2016’s volume at this point in the year.  During all of the month of April on three Mediterranean routes—Western, Eastern and Central—no more than 7,087 migrants and refugees have been registered as arrivals. That volume was nearly matched on a daily basis when 2015 emergency was cresting and over 5,000 migrants were landing every 24 hours across the Aegean, with hundreds more headed each day to Italy and Spain. 

IOM Rome’s Flavio Di Giacomo reported no new arrivals to Italy in the days since IOM’s last report. The 3,171 arriving from North Africa during the current month are less than one fourth their volume from a year ago, and just over one-third the arrival rate of 2016 (see chart below).

IOM Libya’s Christine Petré reported Monday that on 27 April, 84 migrants were rescued by local fishermen close to Zuwara. All migrants were transferred to Zuwara detention centre, where IOM provided medical screenings and primary health care—including pregnancy care to one woman from Mali: Four emergency cases were also referred to local hospitals and one pregnant woman was transferred for care in Tripoli, in close coordination with MSF. 

So far this year, 4,964 migrants have been returned to Libyan shore by the coast guard, Petré said.

IOM Greece’s Kelly Namia reported Monday that over the four days (25-28 April) the Hellenic Coast Guard reported at least two incidents requiring search and rescue operation off the island of Lesvos and Megisti. Another 40 landed at Farmakonisi.

Namia reported that the 249 seaborne migrants detected over those four days through Saturday bringing to 8,067 since January 1, for an average of just over 67 persons per day. (see chart below)

IOM Spain’s Ana Dodevska reported Monday that through 29 April, 4,400 men, women and children have been detected entering Spain irregularly by sea. For each of the first four months, Spain’s arrivals have exceeded last year’s similar amounts, however not by an alarming degree (see chart below)

Nonetheless, what is alarming is the increased number of drownings on this route: 217 through 29 April, which is nearly the total for all of last year: 224.

IOM’s Missing Migrant Project (MMP) reported that 606 migrants are estimated to have died this year in the Mediterranean alone, the largest number after leaving Libya. However, most recently, 19 people lost their lives when trying to cross to Spain. On Sunday, Algerian civil protection authorities retrieved 15 bodies from a sinking boat near Cap Falcon, west of Oran, and rescued 19 survivors. According to survivors’ testimonies, an estimated four people remain missing. Spanish NGO Caminando Fronteras confirmed that 38 people had been on board the boat when it left from Nador, Morocco last Friday (27 April). Unfortunately, the identities of those who died are currently unknown.


Worldwide, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has recorded 1,008 people who died or went missing while migrating in 2018. (see chart below)

On the US-Mexico border, a young man of unconfirmed nationality died trying to cross the Rio Grande in an effort to reach Texas on 26 April. In Mexico’s southern state of Veracruz, a Honduran migrant died on 27 April after he fell off a freight train near the city of Córdoba, Veracruz.

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.

Latest Mediterranean Update infographic here


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 Coordination Office for the Mediterranean, Italy, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email:

Hicham Hasnaoui at IOM Morocco, Tel: + 212 5 37 65 28 81, 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:

Myriam Chabbi, IOM Tunisia, Tel: +216 28 78 78 05 (mobile) office: +216 71 860 312 EXT. 109 Email: