Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 27,850, Deaths: 655

Switzerland - IOM reports that 27,850 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through 29 March, over 80 percent arriving in Italy and the rest in Spain and Greece. This compares with 165,697 through the first 89 days of 2016.

IOM Rome spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo reported Thursday that on Tuesday, 28 March, the Iuventa ship of the German CSO “Jugend Retted” rescued 141 migrants, who were attempting to cross the Mediterranean crammed on a rubber dinghy. Their craft began to take on water and sink slowly. Many of those on board had fallen in the water and were trying to stay afloat. The Iuventa transferred 140 survivors onto the Italian Coastguard’s Unit “Dattilo” ship, while one other migrant – a 16-year-old Gambian boy found unconscious during the operation – was transferred onto the Spanish “Canarias”. That ship, operating under the EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia, had a larger medical team on-board to assist the young migrant.

On Tuesday night the Canarias brought the Gambian teen to Lampedusa, where – still in shock – he met IOM and other organizations to reconstruct the incident. He said he believed there had been about 147 people on board the sinking dinghy, and thought he was the sole survivor. IOM now calculates there remain five people still missing.

IOM was informed that the Dattilo arrived Thursday in Augusta, Sicily, with over 700 migrants on board.

IOM staff subsequently confirmed the presence of the 140 survivors on board, as well as the remains of one victim.

Di Giacomo further reported that on 30 March, more than 1,100 people arrived in Italy,  figures that are not included in the Italy arrivals total of 23,125 (see chart above) reported by Italy’s Ministry of the Interior. IOM calculates arrivals to Italy this year through 29 days of March already exceed three-month arrival totals to Italy from either of the last three years.

IOM Libya’s Christine Petré reported that on Tuesday (28 March), 140 migrants were rescued off Zuwara –  four  women and 136 men. That same day, 85 migrants were rescued off Az Zawiyah – three women and  82 men.  The remains of four migrants were retrieved during the course of these same incidents. The following day (Wednesday 29 March), remains of three other migrants were recovered on Sabrathah: two men and one woman.

This makes the total for this year 3,682 migrants rescued and 171 bodies retrieved.

On 30 March, IOM Libya reported that it helped 171 stranded Nigerien migrants including one woman and one unaccompanied minor to return home to Niger from Libya.

The charter, which is the third flight to Niger, was coordinated with the Libyan authorities, the Nigerien embassy in Tripoli and IOM Niger. “This charter flight involved migrants from three different locations, city premises and two detention centres, making it particularly challenging considering the security situation in the country,” explained IOM Libya’s Programme Officer Ashraf Hassan.

Additional assistance, including clothes and shoes, was provided to 95 migrants from two separate detention centres in Libya.

Furthermore, nine of the most vulnerable cases on the flight, including both the woman and the unaccompanied minor, were allocated reintegration assistance which will be provided with the assistance of IOM Niger.

In 2016, IOM Libya assisted 2,775 migrants to return home. Already this year, IOM Libya has helped 1,795 stranded migrants return to their countries of origin. The return assistance to Niger was funded by the UK Foreign Office and the Government of the Netherlands as part of IOM’s return assistance programme.

Last year at this time, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project recorded 740 Mediterranean fatalities, nearly half of those occurring off Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean. In 2017, so far 13 fatalities have been recorded on this route, including 11 recorded last weekend off western Turkey, with 47 recorded off Spain and 595 recorded in the waters between Libya and Italy. These data do not include seven bodies recovered this week in Libya.

Although deaths on the Mediterranean Sea remain quite high through the first three months of 2017, IOM data indicate fatalities at the beginning of this year are not the highest recorded during the current emergency. In 2015, 488 men, women and children were reported lost on the Mediterranean through March 31, while the following winter 749 fatalities were recorded in the Mediterranean through March 31.

The main difference between 2016 and 2017 is that total arrivals on the Mediterranean during those first months of 2016 were nearly six times 2017’s arrivals, due largely to the surge of traffic from Turkey to Greece. That eastern Mediterranean corridor accounted for just under half of all deaths in the region.


Sea Arrivals in Italy and Greece 2014-2016



Total 2014

Total 2015

Total 2016










Worldwide, the IOM Missing Migrants Project reports that fatalities through 30 March number 1,157 (see chart, below), with the Mediterranean region accounting for the largest proportion of deaths – over half of the global total. That is around 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 January – 30 March 2016 and 2017

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For further information please contact:
Joel Millman at IOM Geneva, Tel: +41.79.103 8720, Email:
IOM Italy: Flavio Di Giacomo, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email:
IOM Germany: Sabine Schneider, 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:
IOM GMDAC: Julia Black, Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email:
IOM Turkey: Abby Dwommoh, 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: or Ashraf Hassan, Tel +216 29 794707, Email:
IOM Niger: Alberto Preato, Tel: +227 8053 5933, E-mail:
IOM Morocco: Hicham Hasnaoui, 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: