Migrant, Refugee Arrivals by Sea Surpass a Record 430,000

Switzerland - The number of migrants, including refugees seeking asylum, who have arrived in Europe by sea so far in 2015 has surpassed 430,000, according to IOM analysis. This figure is double the amount of arrivals in the Mediterranean for the entire 2014, emphasizing the scale of the current migration emergency.

According to IOM estimates, 432,761 migrants and refugees have reached Europe by sea in 2015 so far (as of 10/09/2015). The vast majority of arrivals were registered in Greece (309,356 people, approximately 70% of all 2015 arrivals), followed by Italy (121,139 people, approximately 28% of all 2015 arrivals).

Based on latest information received from Hellenic Police on the various Greek islands with the highest inflows, approximately 50,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Greece since the beginning of September. This significant jump in the numbers can be explained by the fact that as weather conditions deteriorate on the high seas more migrants and refugees will attempt the crossings to Greece and Italy before winter sets in and there are reduced mixed migration flows.

While Greece is affected by arrivals from Syria and Afghanistan, Italy is affected by mixed migration flows. Mixed migration flows are more complex to manage. The country sees the arrival of a significant number of asylum-seekers, and also a large proportion of job-seeking migrants. Irrespective of nationality, both types must be individually screened to determine their status. The boats transporting men, women, and children attempting to reach Europe also often carry vulnerable groups, such as survivors of trafficking and violence, unaccompanied children, and pregnant women.

At various border crossings between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) IOM staff recorded that more than 3,000 migrants were in the area passing the borders in groups of 50 every 20 minutes in recent days. Fewer than 50% of the migrants and refugees were nationals from Iraq and Syria, most of them families with little children. The rest were mainly nationals from Afghanistan and Pakistan along with some from Sub-Saharan Africa. Many were also speaking Greek, confirming the fact that along with recent arrivals, there were also those who have lived for years in Greece, wanting now to head to Northern and Western Europe.

A total of 2,748 migrants have lost their lives in the Mediterranean to date. The expansion of the Frontex mandate in the Mediterranean has decreased somewhat the mortality rate in the last few months. Indeed, the enhancement of the Frontex Operation Triton in the Mediterranean has supported maritime forces to save more migrant lives in the Channel of Sicily, which is notoriously the deadliest route in the Mediterranean sea.   

Greece, which has become the largest arrival point, registered, between the 1st of January and the 31st of August 2015, the arrival of approximately 246,000 people: over 70% came from Syria alone (175,375), while the other main countries of origin were Afghanistan (50,177), Pakistan (11,289), and Iraq (9,059).

The Italian Ministry of Interior recorded the arrival of 116,149 migrants and refugees between the 1st January and the 31st August 2015 – a 3% increase in comparison to the same period last year, when the number of migrants rescued at sea totaled 112,689.

For Italy, the main countries of origin recorded in this same period were: Eritrea (30,708), Nigeria (15,113), Somalia (8,790), Sudan (7,126), Syria (6,710), and Gambia (5,514). These nationalities were also among the top 10 at this time last year.

IOM teams have permanently deployed at key landing points in Italy (Lampedusa, Sicily and the Southern mainland) and in Greece (on the islands of Samos, Kos, Rhodes and Lesvos) staff supports local authorities in the management of migration flows to the two countries.

For the latest data on arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean, please visit Missing Migrants Project:

For further information, please contact:

Flavio Di Giacomo at IOM Italy, Tel: +39 0644 186 207, Email: or Daniel Esdras at IOM Greece: Tel: +30 210 9912174 Email: or Itayi Viriri at IOM HQ, Tel: + 41 79 285 43 66, Email: or Daniel Szabo at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 76 768 7703, Email: