IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 17,461 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea through the first 105 days of 2018, with about 43 per cent arriving in Italy and the remainder divided between Greece (36%) Spain (20%) and Cyprus (less than 1%).
This compares with 37,046 at this point in 2017 and over 175,000 at this point in 2016.
IOM Rome’s Flavio Di Giacomo said Monday the Spanish Military Ship “Santa Maria” brought 483 migrants to Augusta, Italy. The migrants were rescued on Friday from three dinghies during three separate operations carried out by the Santa Maria, the NGO SeaWatch and the Italian Coast Guard.
According to Di Giacomo, the migrants left from the Libyan city of Al Khoms on Thursday night. He said that according to official figures from Italy’s Ministry of the Interior, the 7,495 migrants arriving in Italy by sea this year represents a 75 per cent drop from this time last year, when over 30,000 migrants had arrived during the same period.
Halfway through the month of April – traditionally early in the busiest season on the Mediterranean’s Central route – traffic is down to just under 1,200 men, women and children, or less than 100 per day. That’s about twice the rate as arrivals in March yet still the lowest level at least since 2016.
Last year, during the first 15 days of April, 5,837 men, women and children arrived in Italy on this route; in 2016 the total for the first 15 days of April was 3,023. This year’s April total this far comes to less than one-fifth of 2017’s volume and just over one third of the 2016 total.
The 559 deaths on the three Mediterranean Sea routes so far this year compare with 918 at this time in 2017, a decline of about 40 per cent year-on-year.
Worldwide, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has recorded 938 deaths and disappearances during migration in 2018. On the US/Mexico border, 66 migrants are estimated to have died this year. Most recently, the remains of two men were recovered by Mexican civil protection authorities from the Río Bravo in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico: they drowned on 12 April when attempting to cross to the US.
In Mexico’s southern state of Tabasco, a young pregnant woman from Honduras was gravely injured after falling from the freight train known as La Bestia on 12 April. She died of her injuries a few hours later, leaving behind a young son and daughter in the community of La Ceiba in Honduras.
In Ceuta, Spain’s enclave in North Africa, the bodies of two young men from Sub-Saharan Africa were retrieved in less than 24 hours near the border fence with Morocco on Friday, 13 April and Saturday, 14 April. The results from the autopsy have confirmed that both men died of a cardiac arrest. A third migrant who crossed the border fence with them alerted authorities upon his arrival to the migrant temporary stay centre in Ceuta.
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.