Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 78,372; Deaths Reach 1,728

Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 78,372 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2018 through 20 September, 34,238 of whom travelled to Spain, the leading destination this year. This compares with 132,715 arrivals across the region through the same period last year.

Spain, with over 44 per cent of all irregular arrivals on the Mediterranean to date, has outpaced

Greece and Italy throughout the summer.

Italy’s arrivals (20,859) to date are the lowest recorded by IOM since 2014, lower in fact, than arrivals recorded by Italian authorities during many individual months over the past five years. The same can be said for Greece, whose totals for irregular migrant arrivals through the first week of September this year (22,261) recently surpassed arrivals to Italy. It is the first time that has happened since the early spring of 2016.  

A year ago, Greece’s irregular migrant arrivals were about one-sixth those of Italy, while Spain’s were about one-tenth (see chart below).


According to official MOI figures, 20,859 migrants have arrived in Italy by sea this year, 79.7 percent less than the same period last year. The main point of departure has been Libya

Rescue operation occurred in the Channel of Sicily with survivors transported to Sicily (Catania, Augusta, Porto Empedocle, Pozzallo, Trapani, Palermo, Lampedusa).

Staff are deployed at the main landing points in Sicily (including Lampedusa), Calabria and Apulia where they provide legal assistance to those arriving by sea, monitor the reception conditions and support the authorities in the identification of vulnerable groups.


IOM Spain reported Monday that 34,238 irregular migrants have arrived by sea this year via the Western Mediterranean; of those, some 11,307 arrived since the start of August. For the first 20 days of September, irregular migration arrivals on the Western Mediterranean route were running at a rate of close to 213 per day (see chart below).

*The figures include 630 individuals rescued by the Aquarius ship (disembarkation: 17 June, at the Port of Valencia) and other 87 individuals rescued by Open Arms (Disembarkation: Port of Algeciras, 9 August 2018)


Search and rescue operations


IOM’s Christine Nikolaidou in Athens reported on Thursday (20/09/2018) that from Tuesday 18 September to date, the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) reported that there was at least 1 (one) incident requiring search and rescue operations off the island of Samos. The HCG rescued a total 34 migrants and transferred them to the island.

IOM Staff is present in Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Leros, Kos and Crete Island where they are working closely with authorities (Frontex, the Hellenic Coastguards and the First Reception Service) to identify vulnerable migrants including unaccompanied minors, elderly migrants, migrants with medical needs and families with children.  Vulnerable groups are referred to authorities in order to be provided with the necessary care.

IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has documented the deaths of 2,726 people migrating to international destinations in 2018.

The Mediterranean continues to account for the vast majority of deaths recorded globally. Most recently, five people died in the Western Mediterranean in separate incidents. In the past week, the remains of four migrants have washed up on the shores of the Spanish province of Granada. On 15 September, the remains of an unidentified man washed up on Castell de Ferro beach, near Gualchos. Two days later, on 17 September, the body of a woman was recovered in Herradura Bay, near Almuñécar. On 18 September, the body of a man was found by a Guardia Civil patrol boat 50 nautical miles south of Port of Motril, while on 20 September, another body washed up on La Rábita Beach, near Albuñol. These remains are not associated to any known shipwreck, which indicates that many deaths are unknown. Additionally, the Spanish rescue services recovered one body and rescued 56 people from a sinking boat in the Alboran Sea, 150 nautical miles southwest of Alboran Island, on 19 September.

In Libya, authorities from the customs office in Jaghboub reported that they found the bodies of three Egyptian migrants in the desert near the Egyptian border.

In Mexico, the route north to the US border presents numerous risks to migrants, including taking unsafe transportation options. On 19 September, a 40-year-old man died and 12 people of Central American origin were injured in a vehicle accident in the federal highway 109, near the municipality of San Pedro Totolapan, Oaxaca. Along the US-Mexico border, irregular migrants are often forced to cross through remote parts of the countryside in order to avoid coming into contact with authorities in well-patrolled areas. Most recently, the remains of a migrant were discovered on ranchlands near Eagle Pass, in Texas, on 19 September.

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:
Ana Dodevska, IOM Spain, Tel: +34 91 445 7116, 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:
Christine Nikolaidou, IOM Greece, Tel: +30 210 99 19 040 ext. 248, 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:
Myriam Chabbi, IOM Tunisia, Tel: +216 28 78 78 05 (mobile) office: +216 71 860 312 (Ext. 109), Email:
Dimitrios Tsagalas, IOM Cyprus, Tel: + 22 77 22 70, E-mail: