Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 39,289 in 2019; Deaths Reach 840

Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports that 39,289 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea through 4 August, roughly a 34 per cent decrease from the 59,271 arriving during the same period last year.

Arrivals this year to Greece and Spain are at 18,947 and 13,568, respectively, (32,515 combined) accounting for almost 83 per cent of the regional total, with the balance arriving in much smaller numbers to Italy, Malta and Cyprus. Arrivals to Greece are running approximately 16 per cent ahead of 2018’s totals from this time. Arrivals to Spain are almost 43 per cent lower.

Deaths recorded on the three main Mediterranean Sea routes through almost seven months of 2019 are at 840 individuals – or about 45 per cent of the 1,517 deaths confirmed during the same period in 2018 ( see chart below).

The 840 deaths at sea do not include, however, 20 persons reportedly drowned over the weekend. IOM Italy’s Flavio Di Giacomo reported late Monday that 49 migrants arrived in Lampedusa earlier in the day without escort – that is, apparently without any rescue effort by official units or NGO operations – stating that the arriving migrants saw at least 20 fellow passengers fall into the sea during their journey. The survivors came mainly from Côte d'Ivoire.

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 (MMP). Since the beginning of 2014, the project has recorded the deaths of 32,595 individuals, including 1,637 in 2019, through 4 August (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. MMP 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.

Since the start of the year, about half of all global fatalities have occurred on three routes across the Mediterranean. These deaths are included among the 18,757 fatalities recorded by the Missing Migrants Project since 2014.

Several tragedies in the Mediterranean were documented since last week’s update. In the Central Mediterranean, an estimated 150 people lost their lives in a shipwreck off the coast of Al Khums, Libya, on 25 July. Approximately 134 survivors were rescued by fishermen and returned to the shore by the Libyan Coast Guard. In the days following the shipwreck, the remains of 43 people were recovered, while 107 people remain missing and unaccounted for.

In the Western Mediterranean, a young Algerian man reportedly went missing while trying to swim around the heavily guarded border fence separating Morocco and the Spanish exclave of Ceuta near El Tarajal.

IOM Yemen reported that 93 Ethiopian migrants were travelling on a boat from Djibouti to Yemen when it broke down. Around 26 of those on board where under the age of 18. They were stranded in the Gulf of Aden for one week without food or water. Survivors who managed to reach the shore in Al Buraiqeh, Yemen reported that around 15 of those onboard died, either of dehydration, starvation or drowning at sea.

In Europe, the remains of a man were found on 28 July on the Evros/Meriç river in the north-eastern Evros region, at the land border with Turkey. Since the start of 2019, MMP has documented the deaths of 14 people in this river, which forms a natural border between Greece and Turkey. In 2018, 55 fatalities were recorded on this border, compared with 14 over 2014–2017. Additionally, two deaths were reported in Bosnia and Herzegovina, near the border with Croatia: on 31 July, a young Algerian man was found dead near the town of Velika Kladuša, while a day later, on 1 August, a man of unknown nationality was hit by a train near Bihac.

In Mexico, a Salvadoran man was shot on 31 July, when he was attempting to climb onto a freight train in Saltillo, Coahuila. This incident was reported by the migrant shelter in Saltillo, where he had stayed with his eight-year-old son for a few days before continuing their journey north. He is among the 75 people recorded dead or missing by MMP in the region since the start of the year, of which 12 were children.

Of the recorded deaths this year, 21 per cent were due to violence. Additionally, in Mexico’s southern state of Chiapas, a 46-year-old Cuban man died on 2 August, apparently from cardiac arrest while walking the streets of Tapachula.

On the US-Mexico border, at least 27 people have died during the month of July, while six deaths have already been recorded since 1 August.

Most recently, the remains of three people who died of dehydration were found in different counties in Arizona, including those of two young women. In ranch lands of Maverick County, Texas, authorities recovered the remains of two men who died from dehydration between 31 July and 2 August. At the Lordsburg Border Patrol Station in New Mexico, a 32-year-old man from El Salvador died within hours of being apprehended near El Paso by US Border Patrol agents. He was travelling with his 11-year-old daughter – they wanted to join her mother, who lives in the US.

Several drownings also were reported in the Río Bravo/Rio Grande over the past few days: US authorities recovered the remains of a man in Hidalgo County on 25 July, while Mexican civil protection authorities retrieved one body in Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila on 28 July. They recovered three more bodies between 29 July and 2 August, in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. In Reynosa, the remains of two men were recovered from the banks of the river on 2 August. IOM estimates that at least 228 people have died on the US-Mexico border in 2019. When looking at data compiled over time, 2,135 people have been recorded dead or missing along this border since the Missing Migrants Project started collecting data in 2014.

IOM’s Missing Migrants Project this year also has reported a sharp increase in the number of Venezuelan nationals who have died during migration since 2014, when the Missing Migrants researchers began documenting migrant fatalities worldwide.

From 2014 through 2016, MMP recorded a total of 7 fatalities of Venezuelans, zero in 2017, before recording a jump to 42 through all last year. Half of those 2018 fatalities occurred at sea between Venezuela and the Netherlands Antilles islands of Curaçao and Aruba.

In 2019, through just six and a half months, 82 fatalities have been recorded, or nearly twice those recorded all last year, and almost 60 per cent of all deaths reported of Venezuelan migrants since 2014. (see chart below).

In total, MMP has recorded the deaths of 137 Venezuelan nationals since 2014. Those fatalities were recorded in the following countries:  Curaçao, Aruba, the US-México border, Colombia, Ecuador, Trinidad and Tobago and Brazil.

In total, at least 485 people have lost their lives in the Americas in 2019, compared with 358 recorded through this point in 2018 – an increase of roughly 35 per cent.

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.

The report Fatal Journey Volume 4, published 28 June, includes an overview of five years of Missing Migrants Project data (2014-2018) and an update on what is known about deaths during migration in 2019.

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For latest arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean, click here. Learn more about the Missing Migrants Project.
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