Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 24,645 in 2019; Deaths Reach 555

Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports that 24,645 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea through 12 June, roughly a 33 per cent decrease from the 36,612 arriving during the same period last year. Arrivals to both Spain and Greece account for 82 per cent of all arrivals, with the balance arriving this year in Italy, Malta and Cyprus.  

Deaths recorded on the three main Mediterranean Sea routes through 163 days of 2019 are at 555 individuals – or less than two thirds of the 875 deaths confirmed during the same period in 2018 (see chart below). 

IOM Spain 

IOM Spain’s Ana Dodevska reported on Thursday (13/06) that sea arrivals in the Western Mediterranean are now at 8,523 men, women and children through 12 June. That is well below the total for this same period last year when 9,315 irregular migrants had arrived in Spain by the Western Mediterranean route.  

While Spain was the Mediterranean’s busiest irregular migration route in 2018, activity in these waters appears to have tapered off significantly after a fast start earlier this year. June arrivals this year through almost two weeks are just 467 men, women and children – or just under 40 per day, Dodevska reported. Last year through 30 days of June the total was entering Spain for the month was 6,926 – or 230 per day to Spain via this same route (see charts below). 

IOM Greece 

IOM Greece’s Christine Nikolaidou reported on Thursday (13/06) that from Tuesday (11/06) up to date, the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) reported at least eight incidents requiring search and rescue operations off the islands of Lesvos, Kos, Samos, Leros, Farmakonisi and Alexandroupoli’s port. The HCG rescued a total of 234 migrants and transferred them to those respective spots. 

Those arrivals, others arriving between 10 June and 12 June, bring to 11,683 the total number of sea arrivals to Greece this year (see chart below). Greece’s 2019 arrivals now are now virtually even with the 11,812 arrivals to Greece through this same period in 2018. 

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 32,046 individuals, including 1,089 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.  

During the past week in the Mediterranean, Missing Migrants Project recorded the deaths of 12 people. In the Eastern Mediterranean, seven people drowned on 11 June, when a seven-metre rubber boat capsized in the sea area of Pamfyla, 2.5 miles off the port of Mytilene, Lesvos. According to the Hellenic Coast Guard, the victims – four women, two young girls and one man – were rescued from the water unconscious and transferred to the local hospital, where their deaths were confirmed. The boat was carrying a total of 64 migrants, among them 57 survivors. Most survivors come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while some originated from Cameroon and Angola.  

In the Western Mediterranean, the deaths of five people were reported. On 12 June, Spanish rescue services rescued 49 people (39 men, 4 women and one little boy, with five others whose ages and genders have not been described) from a boat sinking 22 miles off the coast of Motril, Granada, after they had been adrift for more than a day in the Alboran Sea. They reported that four people had fallen overboard and drowned before the rescue. Their bodies have not been recovered. Five survivors had to be medically evacuated by helicopter to a hospital in Almería. Tragically, one of them, a man whose identity is not known, died on the way. The four others, all men, were transferred to the intensive care unit of the hospital where they remain in serious condition. Nine survivors were transferred to the local hospital in Motril, Granada, as some of them, including a little boy and his mother, were admitted with severe burns.  

This past week was marked by several tragedies on the US-Mexico border, where 23 people have died since 30 May, or one per day.  

Several deaths were recorded on private ranch lands in Texas last week. The US Border Patrol reported that they found the remains of a 20-year-old Mexican woman on a ranch near Carrizo Springs, in Dimmit County. Two days later, the remains of a man were found near a ranch gate also in Carrizo Springs. Near Eagle Pass, the bodies of two men were found floating in the Río Bravo by US Border Patrol agents on 7 June.  

Further upstream, the remains of eight people have been found in El Paso border canals over the past few days. The deaths occurred amid rising water levels in canals and the Río Bravo, a normal occurrence during the summer. On Monday, 10 June, authorities found the bodies of three men in a storm-water drain near Ascarate Park, in El Paso. That same day, the body of a fourth man was found in a canal near Upper Valley Road. The remains of a woman were found on Saturday, 8 June, in a canal along Passmore Road, also in El Paso. On Wednesday, 13 June the bodies of an adult man and a little girl were recovered from a canal in the Lower Valley. Water levels in the Río Bravo and its canals have been rising recently with the release of water from dams upstream, which happens annually for the summer irrigation season.  

In the Caribbean, families reported that 32 Venezuelans are missing after the boat they were travelling on sank on its way to the island of Curaçao. The migrants left from Venezuela’s north-western state of Falcón on Friday, 7 June. Authorities in Curaçao recovered the body of a man on Sunday, 9 June near Bullenbaai. Forensic experts determined that he died 12 hours before his remains were recovered. The island’s coast guard is still investigating whether he was part of the boat reported missing by family members in Venezuela.  

These deaths are not yet included in the MMP totals, as the team is trying to verify reports of the sinking. Likewise, reports of another sinking that may have happened in mid-May are still pending verification. Families from the community of Güiria in Venezuela reported that 22 people went missing off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago on 18 May. On 24 April, another shipwreck was recorded off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago, in which one person died and 22 went missing. Coast Guard units rescued 11 survivors.  

If these reports are confirmed, as many as 77 Venezuelans may have drowned while fleeing the county since mid-April. The MMP team has recorded 82 confirmed deaths in the Caribbean in 2019, compared to 19 during the same period of 2018.  

On the sea crossing between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, reports emerged of a tragic incident in early June, when 13 people were rescued by the Dominican Navy from a boat in distress 22 miles off Punta de los Nidos. Survivors reported that seven people had drowned before they were rescued, but their bodies were not recovered. A 43-year-old pregnant woman died in the hospital a day after the rescue.  

Not counting the unverified reports mentioned above—potentially some 54 missing migrants—as well as another 42 potential fatalities IOM’s Missing Migrants Project considers still under investigation in Mexico, to date at least 316 people have lost their lives in the Americas in 2019, compared with 223 recorded through this point in 2018.   

The mark of 300 deaths, surpassed on 12 June, is the earliest so many fatalities have been recorded on Western Hemisphere migration corridors during the past four years. Last year, 300 deaths were not recorded until past mid-July (24/07), while in 2017 the mark was hit in late June (29/06) and on 15 July in 2016. 

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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