Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 19,722, Deaths: 525

Switzerland – IOM reports that 19,722 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through 15 March, over 80 percent arriving in Italy and the rest in Spain and Greece. This compares with 154,416 through the first 74 days of 2016.

These arrival numbers do not include 333 migrants that came to port in Italy on 16 March, according to updates from Italy’s Ministry of Interior. Those new arrivals would push this year’s Mediterranean arrival numbers over 20,000 on March 16, and to over 16,000 for Italy alone. That puts 2017’s arrival rate to Italy considerably ahead of the 2015’s first three-month total of 10,165, and just below the 2016 three-month total of 18,777 (see chart below).

  Arrivals by sea to Italy
January – December 2015/2016
(source: Italian MoI)

2016

2015

January

5,273

3,528

February

3,828

4,354

March

9,676

2,283

April

9,149

16,056

May

19,925

21,231

June

22,371

22,877

July

23,552

23,210

August

21,294

22,610

September

16,975

15,922

October

27,384

8,916

November

13,962

3,219

December

8,047

9,636

IOM’s Missing Migrants Project reports that the number of Mediterranean deaths – 525 – exceeds by 29 the total of 496 reported during the same period in 2016.  Julia Black of IOM’s Global Migration of Data Analysis Centre explained, “Already 525 migrant deaths and disappearances have been recorded in the Mediterranean as of 16 March 2017, an eight percent increase over the number recorded at this point in 2016.” She pointed to these key differences in the two years’ data:

  • 481 of the 525 missing migrants recorded in the Mediterranean overall drowned in the Central Mediterranean, compared to 97 between 1 January and 15 March 2016;
  • In short. almost five times as many deaths have been recorded on this route this year compared to 1 January – 15 March 2016, which represents a 396 percent increase;
  • Only 2 deaths have been recorded in the Eastern Mediterranean this year, compared to 362 between 1 January and 15 March 2016;
  • This represents a 99.4 per cent decrease in deaths this year on the Eastern Mediterranean compared to 1 January – 15 March 2016.

Worldwide, Missing Migrants reports fatalities on this date are approaching 1,000, with the Mediterranean accounting for the largest proportion of deaths – 525 of 973 (see chart, below).

Missing Migrants recorded 151 deaths in North Africa, part of a release of new data from the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat’s Mixed Migration Monitoring Mechanism Initiative dating back to November 2016. Black explained these new data: “Of the 198 recorded through March 16, 2017, 110 (or 56 percent) of deaths occurred in Libya; 70 (or 35 percent) occurred in Sudan. Overall, about 45 percent of these fatalities were reported to have occurred in deserts across Libya, Sudan, and Egypt.”

US-Mexico border deaths have been recorded this year at a rate of nearly one per day – 61 in 74 days – which is well ahead of 2016’s total, 47, at this point last year.

For all of 2016, Missing Migrants reported 400 border deaths – a daily rate just slightly ahead of 2017’s thus far. With summer, just weeks away, IOM is concerned the death toll along the border could climb past last year’s total. IOM researchers note that Mexico has recorded 12 drowning deaths of migrants so far this year along the country’s river border with Texas. Last year researchers counted 36 Texas river drownings of migrants – another indicator that deaths are occurring at a faster pace this year, despite a drop in overall traffic.

Meanwhile, deaths in the Caribbean Sea basin in 2017 have reached 81 through March 16, more than three times last year’s total now. IOM’s Global Migration of Data Analysis Centre noted that in all of 2016, 105 migrants died or went missing in the Caribbean Sea, which was an increase of 89 percent over the 55 deaths recorded in 2015.

The total number of immigrant fatalities in 2016 was recorded in 14 incidents, while there were 8 incidents in 2015 and 10 in 2014. There have been only two major drowning incidents reported in the region so far in 2017.

A complete analysis of 2016 Migrant Deaths and Disappearances Worldwide follows below:

Deaths of Migrants & Refugees: 1 January 2016 – 16 March 2016 vs. 1 January – 16 March 2017

Region

2017

2016

Mediterranean

525

496

Europe

13

15

Middle East

10

32

North Africa

198

393

Horn of Africa

20

84

Sub-Saharan Africa

12

23

Southeast Asia

44

35

East Asia

0

0

US/Mexico

61

47

Central America

9

17

Caribbean

81

29

South America

0

10

Total

973

1,181