Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 68,113 in 2019; Deaths Reach 970

Missing Migrants

Geneva – IOM reports that 68,113 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea through 25 September, roughly a 16 per cent decrease from the 81,167 arriving during the same period last year.  

Arrivals this year to Greece and Spain are at 36,209 and 17,209, respectively (53,418 combined), accounting for about 78 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 36 per cent ahead of 2018’s totals from this time. Arrivals to Spain are more than 50 per cent lower.  

Arrivals to Italy for 2019 have reached 7,043, according to official Ministry of Interior figures, with over three-fourths of those arrivals occurring since 1 June.  

IOM Italy reports 1,908 migrants arrived in Italy by sea since 1 September, raising the possibility this month will be the first since July 2018 when over 2,000 irregular migrants landed after departing North Africa. By comparison, during the years 2016 and 2017, months when more than 10,000 arrivals were recorded occurred 12 times. 

Deaths recorded on the three main Mediterranean Sea routes through almost nine months of 2019 are at 970 individuals – or just over 52 per cent of the 1,847 deaths confirmed during the same period in 2018 (see chart below). The 970 deaths at sea through 25 September include the deaths of several dozen people documented on various sea tragedies across the Mediterranean.  

At least three shipwrecks were recorded off the coast of Algeria in the past two weeks. On 17 September, the remains of three young Moroccan men were retrieved during a rescue operation five nautical miles north of Cap Falcon, Oran, on the western shores of Algeria, where boats depart with the aim to reach mainland Spain. Eight survivors were rescued from the sinking boat and brought back to shore.  

The following day (18 September), another boat sank off the coast of Cap Djinet/Dellys, 70 kilometres east of Algiers. According to the five people who survived the incident, 13 people lost their lives in this shipwreck.  

On 25 September, the remains of an unidentified person were recovered during a rescue operation 22 nautical miles north of Damous, in Algeria’s western coast, and six people were rescued. They reported one missing person.  

In the Eastern Mediterranean, a baby girl went missing during the sea crossing from the coast of Turkey to the Greek island of Kos on 20 September. In a rescue operation conducted by the Turkish Coast Guard, 14 Syrian nationals, including 10 men, a young woman and three children, were intercepted off the coast of Bodrum, Turkey. They reported that the daughter of one of them, an 8-month-old baby girl, had gone missing during the crossing.  

Sadly, this is not the only child death reported this week, as a 5-year-old Afghan child was killed by a truck outside Moria camp in Lesvos, Greece on 24 September, while he was inside a cardboard box in the courtyard of a building. At least 157 children have died this year during migration worldwide. 

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 33,506 people, including 2,344 in 2019, as of 25 September (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. 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. 

Since last week’s update, several deaths have been recorded by the Missing Migrants Project in the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. 

In Turkey, six Syrian nationals were killed on 24 September when the van in which they were travelling overturned on the Reyhanlı-Antakya highway, in Turkey’s southern province of Hatay. In Europe, a 23-year-old Pakistani man was hit by a train while he was walking next to the train tracks in Gradsko, North Macedonia, on 19 September.  

On the US-Mexico border, four people lost their lives trying to cross the Río Bravo. The remains of three young men were recovered in Mexico’s border state of Tamaulipas by Mexican civil protection authorities, including a 30-year-old Mexican man whose remains were recovered near Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, a 27-year-old Mexican man found on the banks of the river near Miguel Alemán on 21 September, and an unidentified man from Central America found near Matamoros on 23 September.  

On the US side of the border, US Border Patrol agents recovered the remains of a 30-year-old man near Eagle Pass, Texas on 20 September.  

In total, at least 596 people have lost their lives in the Americas in 2019, compared with 453 recorded through this point in 2018 and 451 in 2017 – an increase over both years of over 32 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.  

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

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