Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 26,589, Deaths: 649

Switzerland - IOM reports that 26,589 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through 26 March, with over 80 percent arriving in Italy and the rest in Spain and Greece. This compares with 163,895 through the first 86 days of 2016.

IOM Rome spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo said on Monday that 2,320 migrants were brought to land on 23 and 24 March. The main nationalities of those rescued included Nigerians, Gambians, Ivorians, Ghanaians, Malians, Senegalese and Guineans (both Guinea-Bissau and Conakry). He added that, on Saturday and Sunday (25 and 26 March), another 1,160 migrants had been rescued at sea and are being brought to land (these are not included in the table above).  One corpse was found on a dinghy, which was carrying 138 migrants.

Di Giacomo further reported on the  incident on Thursday when the NGO Proactiva OpenArms retrieved the remains of five migrants from a capsized dinghy – plus a sixth victim which the NGO said has since been retrieved near the original site of the shipwreck. These bodies were brought to Catania on Sunday morning and Di Giacomo said IOM now believes the dinghy found by OpenArms is the same one that IOM Libya reported was rescued by Libyan fishermen who saved 54 people on 21 March.

According to the 54 survivors brought to Libya, approximately 120 migrants were on board. Including the six known dead, IOM reports that 66 victims remain unaccounted for in that tragedy.

IOM Rome further explained that the vessel “Iuventa” of the German CSO “Jugend Rettet” said it had spotted another dinghy sinking six miles off the position of the “Golfo Azzurro,” but IOM has no further information about it. The Jugend Rettet is the vessel that retrieved the remains of the sixth victim.

“We are trying to understand whether the dinghy found by OpenArms is the same one that was rescued earlier this month by Libyan fishermen,” stated Federico Soda, director for IOM’s Mediterranean operations. “This may considerably change the number of missing migrants. For the moment, it is only possible to confirm that there are 66 victims.”

Soda went on to say, “However, this tragic event reminds us all of the massive loss of life in the tragedies occurring on the Central Mediterranean route: over 590 migrants have died this year alone. That is 418 more than last year on this route during the same period. In this context, the presence of many rescue ships at sea is crucial: without them, the number of fatalities would be inevitably higher.”

IOM Libya’s Christine Petré reported Monday that, since last Friday (24 March), IOM has received information about the remains of a 15-year-old African girl retrieved from the shores of Sabratah by the Libyan Red Crescent.

“That puts our total confirmed dead found on Libyan beaches this year at 164, of which 20 were retrieved in March.  The number rescued in 2017 by the Libyan Coast Guard and others totals 3,457.”

Last year at this time, IOM recorded 566 Mediterranean fatalities, roughly two thirds occurring off Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean. In 2017, so far 13 fatalities have been recorded on this route, including 11 recorded over the weekend off western Turkey in the province of Aydin. That incident resulted in the deaths of at least two women and five children, all believed to be Syrians.

IOM Iraq also reported yesterday (27 March) that three people died drowning in a swollen stream near Mergasur District in the Erbil governorate while trying to cross into eastern Turkey from Iraq. There were two survivors in that incident, believed to be from the same family as the victims.

Spokesperson Abby Dwommoh of IOM Turkey also stated that the number of migrants attempting to cross from Turkey has doubled this month, compared to January and February. As of 27 March, the Turkish authorities reported that 2,238 migrants were intercepted, compared to 1,075 in January and 1,014 in February.  Over the weekend (25–26 March), IOM staff provided humanitarian assistance to 117 migrants rescued in Cesme and 53 in Dikili, with funding provided by the EU through the humanitarian aid department (ECHO). 

“Since the Mediterranean Crisis began in 2015, Turkey has made tremendous efforts to rescue migrants at sea. These reports highlight Turkey’s ongoing efforts to provide rescue assistance to migrants attempting to make the dangerous journey. Although it’s too early to pinpoint the causes, historically increased attempts of irregular crossings often coincide with warmer weather and improving conditions,” said Lado Gvilava, IOM Turkey Chief of Mission.  

Kelly Namia of IOM Athens declared that 154 migrants or refugees had entered Greece by sea since Thursday (23 March), bringing this year’s total to 3,650. This compares with 149,390 entering Greece by sea at this same point in 2016 (see month-by-month charts below):

Worldwide, the IOM Missing Migrants Project reports that fatalities through 27 March number 1,149 (see chart, below), with the Mediterranean region accounting for the largest proportion of deaths – over half of the global total. That is nearly 300 fewer than at this same point in 2016. However, these data do not account for full reporting from North Africa and the Horn of Africa, two migration corridors where data collection tends to be slower than in other regions.


Global totals table of MMP data for 1 Jan – 27 March 2016 and 2017

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For further information please contact:
Joel Millman at IOM Geneva, Tel: +41.79.103 8720, Email:
Flavio Di Giacomo at IOM Italy, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email:
Sabine Schneider at IOM Germany, Tel: +49 30 278 778 17, Email:
IOM Yemen, Saba Malme, Sana’a, Tel: + 967 736 800 329 (mobile), Email:
IOM Greece: Daniel Esdras, Tel: +30 210 9912174, Email:
or Kelly Namia, Tel: +30 210 9919040, +30 210 9912174, Email:
Julia Black at IOM GMDAC, Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email:
Abby Dwommoh, IOM Turkey; Tel. (Direct): +90 (0)312 454 3048, Mobile: +90 (533) 698 7285, Email:, or Mazen Aboulhosn, Tel: +9031245-51202, Email:
IOM Libya: Othman Belbeisi, Tel: +216 29 600389, Email:  or Christine Petré, Tel. (Direct):  +216 29 240 448, Email:
Hicham Hasnaoui at IOM Morocco, Tel: + 212 5 37 65 28 81, Email:

For information or interview requests in French:
Florence Kim, IOM Geneva, Tel: +41 79 103 03 42, Email:
Flavio Di Giacomo, IOM Italy, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email: