IOM, the UN Migration Agency reports that 49,310 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through 7 May, with the vast majority arriving in Italy and the rest in Greece, Cyprus and Spain. This compares with 187,569 arrivals through 7 May 2016.
IOM Rome reported over the weekend and into Monday that IOM field staffers at Italian landing points calculated a total of 6,612 rescued survivors from more than a dozen locations since last Friday. Over 190 migrants lost their life in two shipwrecks.
Operations still underway are expected to bring all survivors to safety at the Italian harbours of Lampedusa, Reggio Calabria, Pozzallo, Augusta, Catania, Palermo and Vibo Valentia.
Rome spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo said that, according to eye witness testimony from migrants who arrived Sunday in Pozzallo, a dinghy carrying about 130 migrants capsized during the sea crossing: 50 migrants survived while at least 80 people went missing.
“Favourable weather between Friday and Sunday brought thousands of migrants attempting a sea crossing to escape the violence and abuse in Libya,” Di Giacomo said. “Our field colleagues providing direct assistance at the harbours reported that many migrants bore signs of torture.”
IOM field staff in Libya identified another shipwreck a few miles off the Libyan coast at Az Zawiyah. As reported by one of the seven survivors rescued by the Libyan Coast Guard and local fishermen in the area, at least 113 people – including several dozen women and nine children – remain missing at sea and are feared drowned. Given the number of passengers on board, migrants were probably traveling on an unseaworthy rubber dinghy that capsized near the coast.
As of 7 May 2017, 41,196 migrants arrived in Italy by sea, while the tally of victims has spiked beyond 1,200 in the Central Mediterranean route.
Nigeria, as was the case last year, represents the largest single nationality of migrants arriving in Italy, followed by Bangladesh, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire and Gambia