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02 June 2016

Mediterranean Migrant Deaths Spike in May

Germany - May 25 to 31 marked the deadliest week in the Mediterranean so far this year: 1,083 migrants are estimated to have died or gone missing in nine separate incidents, according to a new briefing by IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre in Berlin. The worst tragedy occurred on May 26th, about 35 nautical miles north of Zuwara, Libya, in which an estimated 500 migrants disappeared, including 40 children.

Last week’s migrant death toll is second only to that recorded during a week in mid-April 2015, in which 1,229 migrants are estimated to have died in five separate shipwrecks in the Mediterranean. The vast majority of these reported fatalities occurred along the Central Mediterranean route between Libya and Italy, while ten migrants perished on their journeys along the Eastern Mediterranean route between Turkey and Greece.

These incidents included two particularly tragic ones: on April 18th 2015 an estimated 800 people died or went missing 120 miles south of the Italian island of Lampedusa, and five days earlier, 400 deaths and disappearances were recorded following a shipwreck 80 miles off the Libyan coast.

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Syrian refugees assisted by IOM arrive in Detroit in November 2015. Photo: Salwan Georges / The New York Times


U.S. Struggles With Goal of Admitting 10,000 Syrians

United States – President Obama invited a Syrian refugee to this year’s State of the Union and has spoken passionately about embracing refugees as a core American value, writes Julie Hirschfeld Davismay in The New York Times.

But nearly eight months into an effort to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in the United States, Mr. Obama’s administration has admitted just over 2,500. And as his administration prepares for a new round of deportations of Central Americans, including many women and children pleading for humanitarian protection, the president is facing intense criticism from allies in Congress and advocacy groups about his administration’s treatment of migrants.

They say Mr. Obama’s lofty message about the need to welcome those who come to the United States seeking protection has not been matched by action. And they warn that the president, who will host a Summit meeting on refugees and migrants in September during the United Nations General Assembly session, risks undercutting his influence on the issue at a time when American leadership is needed to counteract a backlash against refugees.

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Migration in the News


  • PRI reported that according to IOM’s Joel Millman, some migrants boarding smugglers’ boats crossing the Mediterranean are not all making the journey by choice. Previously held hostage by traffickers, they can be the victims of extortion schemes.

  • Sputnik reported that the rising death toll in the Mediterranean during the past week raises questions about the EU’s strategy to deal with the migration crisis.

  • Quartz reported that with warm weather and bigger boats, refugee fatalities in the Mediterranean are skyrocketing.

  • AP reported that Syrian refugees who want to go home to rejoin their families are stuck in Germany, because neither the German government nor IOM will help them to return to a war zone.

  • Open Democracy reviewed Crossing the Sea: With Syrians on the Exodus to Europe, a new book by Die Zeit reporter Wolfgang Bauer.

  • Zeit Online interviewed IOM GMDAC researcher Marzia Rango on migrant deaths in the Mediterranean.

  • IRIN reported on the situation in Libyan migrant detention centres, which are overwhelmed with new arrivals and desperately under-resourced.

  • The Economist reported that spontaneous migrant flows cannot be prevented, but they can be handled more competently.

  • My Republica (Nepal) reported on a study highlighting climate change as a factor behind forced migration in South Asia.

  • Presse Box reported ASEAN’s commitment to combat human trafficking in Southeast Asia.

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  • The Guardian reported that despite its poverty and security problems, Mali has provided a safe haven for some refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war.

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