Mediterranean Arrivals Reach 79,350 in 2019, Deaths Reach 1,077

IOM reports that 79,350 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea through 17 October, roughly a 13 per cent decrease from the 91,094 arriving during the same period last year.

Arrivals this year to Greece and Spain are at 43,020 and 19,637 respectively, (62,657 combined) accounting for almost 80 per cent of the regional total, with the balance arriving in much smaller numbers to Italy, Malta and Cyprus. Arrivals to Greece are running approximately 70 per cent ahead of 2018’s totals from this time. Arrivals to Spain are more than 50 per cent lower.

Deaths recorded on the three main Mediterranean Sea routes through nine and a half months of 2019 are at 1,077 individuals – or about 55 per cent of the 1,965 deaths confirmed during the same period in 2018 (see chart below).

In recent weeks, the deaths of several dozen people were documented on sea routes across the Mediterranean.

Most recently, a boat capsized off the coast of Lampedusa on 7 October, killing at least 28 people. The remains of 13 women (including those of a young teenage girl, aged 12) were recovered from the water on 7 October, while 12 more bodies were located a week later, on 15 October, by a diving team. At least three people remain missing. Additionally, 89 migrants who departed from Zwara, Libya were rescued off the coast of Tunisia over the weekend. Survivors told IOM staff that four people had drowned during the journey.

In the Eastern Mediterranean, a boat capsized Off the coast of Altınova, Ayvalık, Turkey on 14 October. Two Syrian girls (a 3-month-old baby girl and a 13-year-old girl) drowned before they could be rescued. The Turkish Coast Guard rescued 33 survivors, including 17 women and 16 men, and brought them to shore.

IOM Greece

IOM Greece’s Christine Nikolaidou reported on Thursday (17/10) that from Friday (11/10) up to date, the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) reported at least 21 incidents requiring search and rescue operations off the islands of Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Lemnos, Ikaria, Farmakonisi, Samothrace and the port of Alexandroupoli. The HCG rescued a total of 824 migrants and transferred them to the respective ports.

Those arrivals, others arriving between 9 and 15 October, bring to 43,020 the total number of sea arrivals to Greece this year (see chart below). Greece’s 2019 arrivals now have surpassed arrival totals for 2014, 2017 and 2018.

Missing Migrants Project

2019 is the sixth year of IOM’s efforts to systematically record deaths on migration routes worldwide through its Missing Migrants Project. Since the beginning of 2014, the project has recorded the deaths of 33,682 people, including 2,520 in 2019 (see chart below).

Due to the challenges of collecting information about these people and the contexts of their deaths, the true number of lives lost during migration is likely much higher. Missing Migrants Project records should only be viewed as indicative of the risks associated with migration, rather than representative of the true number of deaths across time or geography.

Several deaths were recorded in North Africa recently: on 9 October, a 17-year-old Moroccan teenager died in a car accident near Béni Ensar, in Nador, Morocco near the border of the Spanish enclave, Melilla.

On the Niger-Algeria border, the remains of 24 people, including several women and children, were found in the desert near In Guezzam, Algeria between 30 September and 2 October. Two survivors, a man and a woman, were found alive and taken to the hospital where they received medical assistance. All the victims were nationals of Niger.

In Somalia, a truck in which 27 Ethiopian migrants were travelling to Bossaso crashed near the port city of Berbera on 11 October, killing 11 people and injuring 16. The deaths of 87 people have been documented on routes across the Horn of Africa since the beginning of 2019.

In Europe the remains of two Iraqi young men (a 17-year-old teenager and a 22-year-old young man) were found on a beach in Touquet, Pas-de-Calais, France on 14 October, after they apparently tried to cross to the UK in a small boat. At least four people had died in attempts to cross the Channel in 2019.

On the US-Mexico border, two men drowned in the Río Bravo on October 12 and 14 when attempting to reach Texas from Reynosa, Tamaulipas – their bodies were recovered on the Mexican riverbank. Since the beginning of 2019, the deaths of 104 people have been documented in the Río Bravo. This figure is already higher than the total number of drownings (87) recorded in the Río Bravo for all of 2018.

The deaths of four people were recorded on the border between Mexico and Guatemala. On 11 October, a boat in which at least 12 people from Cameroon were travelling capsized off the coast of Tonalá, Chiapas. Eight survivors were brought to shore, while four people drowned in the Pacific. The remains of three of them have been recovered, but at least one person remains missing.

In total, at least 615 people have lost their lives in the Americas in 2019, compared with 481 recorded through this point in 2018 – an increase of over 28 per cent.

Missing Migrants Project data are compiled by IOM staff based at its Global Migration Data Analysis Centre 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.

The report Fatal Journeys Volume 4, published 28 June, includes an overview of five years of Missing Migrants Project data (2014-2018) and an update on what is known about deaths during migration in 2019.