IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 65,576 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2018 through 22 August, with 27,577 to Spain, the leading destination this year. This compares with 120,624 arrivals across the region through the same period last year, and 271,951 at this point in 2016.
Spain, with 42 per cent of all arrivals through the year, continues to receive seaborne migrants in August at a volume more than twice that of Greece and more than six times that of Italy. Italy’s arrivals through late August are the lowest recorded at this point of a normally busy summer season in almost five years
IOM Rome on Thursday joined UNHCR in an appeal to the Government of Italy to allow rescued refugees and migrants on board the Italian coast guard vessel Diciotti to disembark.
IOM Rome’s Flavio Di Giacomo said several vulnerable people – including 17 persons in need of medical care and 27 unaccompanied children – already have been allowed to leave the vessel on humanitarian grounds. Some 150 passengers – all adults – currently remain on board the Diciotti, which has been docked in the Sicilian port of Catania since 20 August.
While welcoming the decision by Italy to allow some of the most vulnerable passengers to disembark, IOM notes it remains crucial to allow everyone remaining on the vessel to come ashore as their humanitarian needs cannot be fully met on board.
“Migrants arriving from Libya are often victims of violence, abuses and torture, their vulnerabilities should be timely and properly identified and addressed,” added Federico Soda, Director of IOM’s Coordinating Office for the Mediterranean, and Chief of Mission for Italy and Malta.
In recent months, UNHCR and IOM have called for a regional arrangement for rescue and disembarkation of passengers in distress on the Mediterranean Sea.
IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has documented the deaths of 1,546 people on the Mediterranean in 2018. Most recently, an estimated 11 people lost their lives in the Central Mediterranean in two separate incidents. On 20 August, a boat carrying 10 Tunisian migrants capsized off the coast of Djerba, in the Médenine Governorate. Only one survivor was found alive by the Tunisian National Guard, while the remains of six others were retrieved over the next few days. Three people remain missing. On 22 August, the Armed Forces of Malta rescued 100 people and recovered two bodies from a boat found 68 nautical miles south of Malta.
IOM’s Christine Petré reported that late Wednesday night (22 August), 25 migrants (21 men, three women and one child) received food and water, as well as medical and protection assistance as they were disembarked by the Libyan Coast Guard. The migrants had embarked in Azzawiyah on a rubber boat with the majority coming from Bangladesh, as well as from Sudan, Ghana, Niger, Cameroon, Mali and Côte d’Ivoire.
Migrants suffered from headaches and muscle pain and eight migrants received basic onsite medical treatment. Following humanitarian assistance, everyone was transferred to Tripoli-based detention centres.
The previous night (21 August), another 138 migrants (111 men, 14 women and 13 children), a majority from Sudan, who had embarked on a rubber boat in Garaboli were returned by the Libyan Coast Guard. Because of the Eid holiday, all migrants were immediately transferred to a detention centre. IOM is following up with assistance in the centre.
So far this year, 12,998 migrants have been returned to Libya.
IOM Spain’s Ana Dodevska reported that total arrivals at sea in 2018 have reached 27,577 men, women and children who have been rescued in Western Mediterranean waters through 22 August. She cited media reports that 200 migrants crossed the fence into Spain’s Ceuta enclave Wednesday, bringing to 4,382 the total number of arrivals by land by irregular migrants in 2018