Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 5,502 in 2018; Deaths Reach 213

Humanitarian Emergencies, Missing Migrants, Refugee and Asylum Issues

Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 5,502 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea through 28 January. This compares with 5,288 coming ashore during a similar period in 2017. Italy accounts for approximately 58 per cent of the total, with the remainder split between Spain (22 per cent) and Greece (20 per cent).

IOM Rome reported on Monday (29 January) that 965 migrants have been rescued at sea during the weekend by Italian and international rescue ships, with some still being brought to land late Monday (and so not included in the above table).

During a rescue operation, the NGO Ship Aquarius (SoS Mediterranée) recovered two bodies, but there are indications more migrants lost their lives. The Aquarius will probably arrive at a Sicilian port Tuesday.


IOM Italy also reported statistics from Italy’s Ministry of Interior listing the top 11 nationalities among the nearly 120,000 irregular migrants arriving from North Africa during 2017. Of the top five countries of origin – Nigeria, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Bangladesh and Mali – only one country, Bangladesh, registered more irregular arrivals on this route than had come in 2016.  Of the others – Eritrea, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, Senegal, The Gambia – only Tunisia and Morocco show increases over the previous year (see chart below).

IOM Libya’s Olivia Headon reported that on Monday (29/01), IOM provided emergency medical assistance to three migrants, who had been returned to Libyan shores while attempting the journey to Italy across the Mediterranean Sea. In total,  121 migrants, including 95 men, 12 women and 14 children, were in the group. Two days previous on Saturday (27/01), Headon also reported that 86 migrants, including 62 men, 15 women and nine children, were returned from sea to Libya. IOM provided emergency medical assistance to five migrants in this group. IOM is following up with these cases to see how they can be helped for example in terms of protection and to offer assistance getting home to their countries of origin, if they want it.

IOM Athens’ Kelly Namia reported Monday that over the days 25-27 January, the Hellenic Coast Guard reported there were at least two incidents requiring search and rescue operations off the island of Lesvos. The Coast Guard rescued 113 migrants.

Over 200 migrants entered Greece by sea over last Friday and Saturday; however, overall arrivals this year continue a trend that began in 2017, when migrant arrivals along the Mediterranean Sea’s Eastern routes hit their lowest levels in four years. The 1,089 arrivals to Greece this year through 27 days are similar to the totals that were witnessed a year ago – but remain in sharp contrast with arrivals from the year before that, when a total of 67,415 arrived in a single month  (see chart below).

IOM Spain’s Ana Dodevska reported Monday total land and sea arrivals of irregular migrants through the month’s first 29 days have topped 1,453 including 216 land border crossings at the African enclave of Melilla.

Since the last IOM report on Friday (26 January) the Organization’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP) added seven more deaths in the Mediterranean to bring this month’s total to date to 213, compared with 251 at this date last year. The deaths of two women were recorded on the Central Mediterranean on Saturday, leaving two children orphaned. According to this report, migrants had already fallen overboard before rescuers appeared on the scene, including several children and an infant of 18 months – an indication that in coming days new casualty figures are likely to rise from this incident. In the Western Mediterranean, the bodies of two migrants – a man and a woman – were recovered after their boat capsized off the coast of Mostaganem, Algeria.

Worldwide, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP) has recorded the deaths or disappearances of 361 people during migration this year.  In the Americas, a bus returning migrants from Mexico to Honduras crashed in Rio Hondo, Guatemala last Thursday (25 January), killing at least one Honduran migrant and injuring 20 others. On Friday, a man drowned attempting to swim from Tijuana across the border to the United States, the eleventh death on the US-Mexico border recorded this January (see chart below).

Missing Migrants Project data are compiled by IOM staff but come from a variety of sources, some of which are unofficial. To learn more about how data on missing migrants are collected, click here.

Latest Mediterranean Update infographic here
For latest arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean, please visit:
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For more information, please contact:
Joel Millman at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 79 103 8720, Email:
Mircea Mocanu, IOM Romania, Tel:  +40212115657, Email:
Dimitrios Tsagalas, IOM Cyprus, Tel: + 22 77 22 70, E-mail:
Flavio Di Giacomo, IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean, Italy, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email:
Hicham Hasnaoui, IOM Morocco, Tel: + 212 5 37 65 28 81, Email:
Kelly Namia, IOM Greece, Tel: +30 210 991 2174, Email:
Julia Black, IOM GMDAC, Germany, Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email:
Olivia Headon, IOM Libya, Tel: + +21651 084554 Email:
Ana Dodevska, IOM Spain, Tel: +34 91 445 7116, Email:
Myriam Chabbi, IOM Tunisia, Tel: +216 71 860 312 ext. 109, Mobile +216 28 78 78 05, Email: