Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 31,649 in 2019; Deaths Reach 682

Geneva – IOM reports that 31,649 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea through 10 July, roughly a 35 per cent decrease from the 48,612 arriving during the same period last year.   

Arrivals this year to Spain and Greece are each over 10,000 individuals (25,800 combined) accounting for almost 82 per cent of the region’s total, with the balance arriving in much smaller numbers to Italy, Malta and Cyprus. Arrivals to Greece are only slightly ahead of last year’s totals from this time last year. Arrivals to Spain are lower.   

Deaths recorded on the three main Mediterranean Sea routes through 120 days of 2019 are at 682 individualsor fewer than half the 1,423 deaths confirmed during the same period in 2018 (see chart below) 

IOM Italy 

According to IOM Rome’s Flavio Di Giacomo, who was citing official Ministry of Interior figures, 3,165 migrants have arrived by sea to Italy in 2019. During the same period this year 3,969 migrants or refugees have been returned from the Central Mediterranean route back to Libya, or about 500 more than all the irregular sea arrivals to Italy since 1 January.  

As a comparison to recent years, 3,165 arrivals to Italy through six months is extraordinary, Di Giacomo said, explaining that from January 2014 through June of last year practically every month saw at least 3,165 arrivals, that is, when individual months routinely received as many irregular migrants arriving by sea to Italy than have arrived during all of 2019 thus far. Over the course of those years – approximately 60 months – monthly totals exceeded 20,000 arrivals at least 14 times (see chart below).

IOM Spain 

IOM Spain’s Ana Dodevska reported on Thursday sea arrivals to Spain, through 10 July have reached 11,016 men, women and children (see chart below).  

This represents a decrease of 35 per cent compared to the same period last year (5,886 fewer individuals).  Spanish authorities have rescued a total of 541 individuals in the first ten days of July. All rescues took place around the Alborán Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar. Authorities reported no new arrivals registered on the Western African Route (to the Canary Islands). 

While monthly arrivals to Spain are lower this year over all (see chart below), fatalities on the Western Mediterranean route remain high – with 203 deaths reported through a little more than six months of this year, compared to 294 at this time in 2018. 


IOM Greece 

IOM Greece’s Christine Nikolaidou reported on Thursday (11/07) that since Friday (05/07), the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) reported at least eight (14) incidents requiring search and rescue operations off the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Kos, Rhodes, Samothraki and Farmakonisi. The HCG rescued a total of 402 migrants and transferred them to those respective ports.  

Those arrivals, plus another 385 at various islands and ports brings to14,784 the total number of irregular migrants and refugees IOM has recorded by sea to Greece this year (see chart 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 32,354 individuals, including 1,397 in 2019 (see chart below), although 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.   

This week, the Missing Migrants Project team recorded the death of 27 migrants: 16 men, six women and four whose sex is unknown. More than half of these deaths (15) were recorded along the US-Mexico border, while eight others were documented in the Caribbean, two in Central America and one in South America – that is, all but one of the 27 who died did so in the Western Hemisphere, the lone exception being one death in Europe. 

In the European case, a migrant man, thought to be from Eritrea, died after jumping from a truck  on 6 July in the Netherlands. Dutch police were alerted to people hanging from a moving vehicle while on the highway. Local press reported that this was after police officers stopped the truck to check it. According to the police, there were seven other men and women migrants inside the truck. After arresting the driver of the vehicle, the local authorities started an investigation to determine if this was a case of human smuggling. 

On the US-Mexico border, the US Border Patrol reported the death of a middle-aged Nicaraguan man, who died on 5 July, soon after he was rushed to a hospital in Tucson, Arizona. The man had been travelling with a group of 36 Central American migrants, who surrendered to Border Patrol agents shortly after crossing the border.  

Additionally, the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, also in Arizona, reported nine cases of migrant deaths during the month of June, including the recovery of the skeletal remains of six people, the death of a male migrant due to hanging, the death of a female migrant due to malnutrition and the harsh conditions of the journey, and one case of hypothermia.  

In the Caribbean, a van in which 16 Haitian migrants and one man from the Dominican Republic were travelling on 8 July fell into an irrigation canal near Navarrete, a municipality in north-western Dominican Republic. As a result, five men and four women drowned in the canal. Four survivors fled the scene of the accident, and three others were taken to a local hospital. It seems that the driver lost control of the six-passenger van after trying to avoid a military road check.  

In total, at least 449 people have lost their lives in the Americas in 2019, compared with 282 recorded through this point in 2018.  

Total US-Mexico border deaths in 2019 are at 197, with more than half (118) of the victims unidentified without any information available as to their age or nationality. MMP has confirmed a total of 57 drownings on the Texas-Mexico border (compared to 51 at this time in 2018), which is about 30 per cent of the region’s total. In barely half of those, or 29 cases, is the nationality of the victim known.   

The known drowning victims came from Mexico (25), El Salvador (15), Guatemala (15), Honduras (13), Ecuador (5), Nicaragua (2) plus one each from Colombia, Haiti, India and Ukraine.

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

See contacts here.