Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 59,271 in 2018; Deaths Reach 1,504

Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 59,271 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea through 5 August 2018. That total compares to 117,102 at this time last year, and over 263,436 at this time in 2016.

Arrivals to Spain (see chart below) lead all countries with 23,741, or just over 40 per cent of all Mediterranean irregular migrants, who this year have surpassed those coming on competing routes. Their migration volume has nearly tripled the number of those registered at this time last year, when some 8,677 had arrived through 31 July. 

Arrivals to Italy trail Spain by almost 5,000. Two weeks ago, the gap between those two destination points was just under 200 individuals – an indicator of how quickly the Spanish route has surged. Italy now reports receiving less than a third of all irregular sea arrivals (around 32 per cent), while Greece continues to receive about 28 per cent, an amount that has remained steady throughout the year.

Significantly, Greece’s arrivals thus far in 2018 are running nearly 5,000 ahead of last year’s totals on this date, an increase of almost 50 per cent.  Arrivals to Italy, on the other hand, are down over 80 per cent compared to 2017 data.

IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has documented the deaths of 1,514 men, women and children seeking to cross the Mediterranean in 2018 – the same number IOM reported last week. Despite the smaller volumes overall, migrants’ Mediterranean passages remains among the deadliest on earth. On a per capita basis, 2 per cent of all migrant attempts last year ended in fatality, compared with 2.5 per cent in 2018. That amounts to twenty deaths per thousand crossers in 2017, rising to twenty-five per thousand reported lost in 2018.

Also notable are the relative differences in lethality between Mediterranean routes in 2018. Despite accounting for fewer than a third of all arrivals to Europe, migration originating in Libya accounts this year for almost three-quarters of all deaths in sea passage. Adding 1,111 fatalities to 18,872 arrivals to Italy yields a total of just under 20,000 crossers on this Central Mediterranean route—and over 55 deaths per thousand crossing attempts, more than double the regional average. In comparison, fatalities for the Western Mediterranean route are about 13 per thousand in 2018; for the Eastern Mediterranean route linking Turkey to Greece and Cyprus the death rate this year is less than six drowning victims per thousand.

IOM Madrid’s Ana Dodevska reported Monday that during this past weekend, a total of 610 individuals were rescued by the patrol boats of Salvamento Maritimo and the Spanish Guardia Civil (395 on Saturday, 4 August; another 215 on Sunday, 5 August).

With those rescues, total 2018 arrivals through 5 August have reached 23,741 men, women and children – irregular migrants who have entered Europe through Western Mediterranean waters. Additionally, according to Spanish authorities, some 3,725 migrants have attempted to enter Spain irregularly via its African enclaves at Melilla and Ceuta.
Over the year’s first five months, a total of 8,150 men, women and children were rescued in Spanish waters after leaving Africa – an average of 54 per day. In the 66 days since 31 May, a total of 15,591 have arrived –or just over 235 migrants per day.
IOM Athens’ Antigone Avgeropoulou said Monday that IOM has learned from the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) of at least one incident between the four days (2-5 August) requiring search and rescue operations off the island of Psara. The HCG rescued a total of 96 migrants and transferred them to Psara and Chios. Another 96 landed without intervention on Lesvos, Samos and Kos – bringing to 16,307 the total number arrivals this year through 5 August (see chart below).

Worldwide, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has documented the deaths of 2,346 people during migration to international destinations in 2018 (see chart below). 

While no new deaths were reported over the weekend on any of the three Mediterranean Sea routes, reports of migrant deaths in other regions have emerged since Friday. In Europe, a young Pakistani migrant was killed during the last week of July while trying to reach the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia from Greece. Greek authorities arrested eight people – with whom the victim reportedly was travelling – in relation to the crime. In North Africa, the remains of three Egyptian men, who were migrating likely with the help of smugglers, were found 100km west of Al Jaghbub, in Libya.

In the Americas, records were added for nine people who were found dead after crossing from Mexico into Pima County, Arizona in the month of July. Their identities, let alone their causes of death, will likely remain unknown because of the fast rate of decomposition in the desert heat. In Texas, US Border Patrol officers found the body of a man near the town of Pharr, in Hidalgo County, who reportedly died of dehydration and heat exhaustion. 

On the US-Mexico border, three people died in recent days while trying to cross into the United States. On 24 July, US Border Patrol officers responded to a distress call regarding two Mexican nationals, a father and son, who were lost in a ranch near Sullivan City, Texas. When they found them, they were taken to the local hospital, where the father died of cardiac arrest. On the same day, Mexican civil protection authorities recovered the body of a young man from the Río Bravo/Grande, near the first international bridge in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.

A fourth victim, a man, also was killed on his way through Mexico when he was hit by a train in Colonia Pascualitos, Mexicali, Mexico on 21 July.

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 migrants’ deaths and disappearances are collected, click here.  

For latest arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean, please visit:
Learn more about the Missing Migrants Project at:

For more information, please contact:
Joel Millman at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 79 103 8720, Email:
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:
Atigoni Avgeropoulou, IOM Greece, Tel: +30 210 99 19 040 (Ext. 166), Mobile: +30 69 48 92 98 09, Email:
Kelly Namia, IOM Greece, Tel: +30 210 991 2174, Email:
Ivona Zakoska, IOM Regional DTM, Austria, Tel: +43 1 5812222, Email:
Julia Black, IOM GMDAC, Germany, Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email:
Christine Petré, IOM Libya, Tel: +216 29 240 448, Email:
Ana Dodevska, IOM Spain, Tel: +34 91 445 7116, Email:
Myriam Chabbi, IOM Tunisia, Mobile: +216 28 78 78 05, Tel: +216 71 860 312 (Ext. 109), Email: