Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 16,724 in 2020; Deaths Reach 256

IOM reports that 16,724 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea through almost four months of 2020, a 16 per cent increase from the 14,381 arriving during the same period last year. Nearly half of all arrivals have been to Greece, this year’s busiest destination.

Deaths recorded on the three main Mediterranean Sea routes through 22 April stand 256 men, women and children, compared with 425 through this same period in 2019.

IOM Italy’s Flavio Di Giacomo reported 34 migrants on board the rescue ship “Aita Mari”, joined 146 migrants taken from another rescue ship, the “Alan Kurdi,” to quarantine aboard the ferry “Rubattino” off the coast of Palermo. He said the migrants are expected to spend several days in quarantine and added that according to media reports all migrants and crew on board tested negative for COVID-19.

IOM Spain’s Ana Dodevska reported 4,856 migrants and refugees have entered Spanish waters from Africa in 2020; nearly half of those, 1,810, took the Western Africa route to the Canarias islands instead of Spain’s European mainland. This compares with 2,557 to the Canarias through all of 2019 and 1,307 in all of 2018.

IOM’s Missing Migrants Project (see below) further reported that up to last week (15 April) 1,781 people arrived in the Canarias aboard 61 boats. During the same period in 2019, 181 people arrived on 20 boats.

IOM Greece reported on Thursday (23/04) that irregular migration sea landings for the month are at 39, in what appears to be the lowest total for any month on the Eastern Mediterranean route since the start of the migrant sea emergency in 2013.

All of those landings occurred on one day, 1 April, at one location: the island of Lesvos. No other landing or sea rescue has occurred in the Aegean for the last three weeks, a remarkable absence of volume and, IOM believes, unprecedented in this period.

Lanna Walsh of IOM Turkey reported that beginning in April, Turkish Coast Guard statistics began showing a decrease in the number of migrants attempting to cross the Aegean Sea. Nationwide lockdown regulations forbid anyone from traveling between provinces without permission letters. During weekends people are required to remain in their homes. All residents, including migrants and refugees, must follow these strict measures, making movement towards border areas nearly impossible.

Also Thursday, IOM Greece’s Erini Axarli shared data on the nationalities of irregular migrants recorded by Greek authorities during the first three months of 2020. Of 7,441 irregular migrants arriving during the period, 2,946 came from Afghanistan, or 40 per cent of the total. The other large groups include Syrians (1847), Somalis, (450) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (450), outnumbering previously large groups such as Iraqis (333) and Iranians (196). Still large numbers were reported from Palestinian Territories (285), Congo (272) and Cameroon (144). A few smaller, and much more distant, states’ citizens continue to arrive on this route, including from The Gambia (55), Guinea (26), Ghana (39), Mali (20), Senegal (21), Sierra Leone (23 ) and Togo (19). Between January and the end of March 10 migrants were reported coming from the Dominican Republic and Haiti.