Greece - At least 170,000 migrants and refugees have entered Europe along sea-borne routes through the first three months of 2016, according to calculations by the International Organization for Migration. This unofficial tally is based on arrivals to Italy reported late Thursday, as well as several hundred migrants and refugees believed to have entered Europe via Spanish waters during the course of 2016.
The total of just under 170,000 is more than eight times the number – 20,700 – recorded through the first three months of 2015, a year when a record one million migrants and refugees crossed the Mediterranean.
IOM reports that 169,846 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea through March 31. This includes 151,104 via the Eastern Mediterranean (Turkey to Greece) and 18,742 via the Central Mediterranean (North Africa to Italy.) IOM reports there have been 620 deaths at sea so far in 2016, compared with 505 through this period last year – an increase of 23 percent.
Deaths of minors – all recorded in the waters linking Turkey to Greece – now stand at 358 since the first of September, 2015. Child drownings made up nearly half the deaths recorded on the same route during the last four months of 2015, but only a quarter of migrant fatalities so far this year.
Arrivals by sea and deaths in the Mediterranean
|1 Jan – 31 Mar 2016
||1 Jan – 31 March 2015|
|Greece||151,104||366 (Eastern Med route)||10,535||505 (includes all Med routes)|
|Italy||18,742||254 (Central and West. Med route)||10,165|
|Country||Total 2014||Total 2015||1 Jan – 30Mar 2016|
* Based on Italian MOI information
1 Jan - 31 March 2016 totals updated as of 15:00hrs, Tues 1 April 2016
According to Libyan sources, a shipwreck occurred off Libya’s coast on Wednesday: a rubber dinghy carrying about 120 migrants sank a few hours after departing for Italy. Thirty-one survivors were rescued by the Libyan navy, but an estimated 89 migrants are still missing.
“Migrants that arrived in last several days are mainly African nationals, coming from Nigeria, Mali, Gambia Senegal and other Sub-Saharan countries. There are no Syrians and for the time being this surge is not related to the renewed efforts to reduce migrants moving through Greece and into the western Balkans,” explained Federico Soda, Director of the IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean.
“This increase is due to a couple of factors. One is the calm seas and improved weather conditions. The other is the situation in Libya which, according to the migrants that have spoken to IOM, is increasingly dangerous for them. According to testimonies gathered by our staff at landing points, migrants are targets of systemic violence and they are leaving because it is too dangerous,” Soda added.
In addition to the latest deaths off Libya, IOM reported that on that same day patrols from Libya rescued a second dinghy with 140 migrants on board. Survivors were taken back to Libya and so are not counted in the total number arriving in Italy this month.
IOM Rome reports that over 4,000 migrants have been rescued since Tuesday (29/3) in the Channel of Sicily. The rescued migrants have been brought to the ports of Augusta, Trapani, Catania, Messina, Palermo and Lampedusa (Sicily), Reggio Calabria and Crotone (Calabria) and Salerno (Campania).
While the majority of migrants are coming from Libya on overcrowded rubber dinghies, at least one fishing boat has arrived in Italy from Egypt this year.
“Every year, the overall majority (90 percent) of migrants usually arrive from Libya, the remaining 10 percent leave from Egypt. The journey from Egypt takes a few days and smugglers use fishing boats that can carry hundreds of migrants,” explained Soda.
IOM estimates show that in the first three months of 2016 Italy registered the arrival of over 18,000 people – an increase of more than 8,000 compared to the same period last year. At least 9,200 migrants were rescued at sea by Italian and international vessels in March – four times the 2,283 rescued during March 2015.
By yesterday (31/3), 18,357, migrants had arrived in Italy in 2016. Another 985 – 591 bound for Salerno; and 394 who arrived in Palermo late Thursday night – would bring the total to over 19,000.
According to IOM data, 249 migrants lost their lives in the Channel of Sicily this year, an average of almost three per day, despite the harsh winter conditions that kept larger vessels from attempting passage. IOM recorded 489 Mediterranean deaths of migrants and refugees through the first 90 days of 2015.
On the Eastern Mediterranean route, 366 migrants or refugees are believed to have perished on the passage between Turkey and Greece – an average of just over four per day.
Soda added: “This migration is still extremely dangerous and we don't really know the extent of the dangers during the overland journey across the Sahara desert. Fortunately this year we have registered a slight decrease of fatalities. This is essentially due to the presence of many rescue vessels patrolling the Mediterranean. IOM praises the efforts of all those engaged in life saving operations and the commitment shown by all the naval forces involved in saving so many lives at sea."
Meanwhile in Greece, the number of migrant and refugee arrivals from Turkey decreased significantly in March 2016, with only 27,000 arrivals recorded – roughly half the number recorded in February 2016.
IOM estimates that 150,703 migrants and refugees have crossed into the Greek islands since the beginning of the year. Most have arrived in Lesbos (53 percent), Chios (30 percent) and Samos (9 percent). The remainder have arrived in Leros (3 percent), Megisti (2 percent), Kos (1 percent) and other islands (2 percent). Some 42 percent of the newly arrived migrants and refugees were adult men, 21 percent adult women and 37 percent children.
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Learn more about Missing Migrants Project at: http://missingmigrants.iom.int