Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 84,345 in 2018; Deaths Reach 1,777
IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 84,345 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2018 through 3 October, with 38,451 to Spain, the leading destination this year.
The data show a drop in the region’s total arrivals compared with 139,677 arrivals across the region through the same period last year, and 312,153 at this same point in 2016.
Deaths on the Mediterranean remain high, at 1,777. However, that figure is well below fatalities recorded at this time last year (2,749) or in 2016 (3,682).
IOM’s Missing Migrants Project notes that at least 1,777 people have died or gone missing on migratory routes across the Mediterranean region during the first nine months of 2018 and into October 3, which marks the fifth anniversary of the October 2013 Lampedusa shipwrecks that claimed 368 victims.
In Italy, October 3 became the official Remembrance Day for those migrants – formally titled “National Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Immigration.”
However, despite the pledges made then by the international community to avoid further death at sea, 14,736 migrants have lost their lives on the Central Mediterranean Route trying to reach Europe, the IOM said.
IOM’s Missing Migrants Project notes that over 60 per cent of migrant deaths worldwide in 2018 have been recorded in the Mediterranean.
Most recently, a shipwreck between Morocco and Spain occurred on October 1. Eleven bodies have been recovered from the capsized patera while another 23 people remain missing, according to testimonies from 26 survivors. A child and an infant are among the 34 dead or still missing.
Also, in the Western Mediterranean, the body of a sub-Saharan African woman presumed to be a migrant was found on Cabo Negro beach, Morocco, last Sunday.
In a report relayed Sunday by Libyan media, IOM also said that more than 600,000 illegal migrants of different nationalities are currently in Libya
In July and August 2018, the organization identified at least 669,176 migrants in 100 municipalities in Libya, the report said, noting that the migrants are from more than 41 countries.
“The five main nationalities identified are from Niger, Egypt, Chad, Sudan and Nigeria,” the UN Migration Agency added.
The reception centers in Libya are filled with thousands of migrants who have been rescued at sea or arrested by the Libyan security services. Libya’s IOM office is implementing a voluntary humanitarian return program in cooperation with local authorities.
Some 12,819 people were repatriated under this program. The top four countries of return are Nigeria, Niger, Mali and Guinea. Returnees also went home to The Gambia, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Senegal, and Pakistan.
In another development, the Spanish coastguard announced Sunday to have rescued in the Mediterranean, in the past 48 hours, nearly 1,200 migrants who were trying to reach Spain.
Spain has become the first gateway to illegal immigration to Europe this year, after Italy has largely closed its borders under pressure from its far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini.
More than 43,000 migrants have fled to Spain since the beginning of the year, including more than 38,000 by sea and nearly 5,000 by land, through the enclaves of Sebta and Melilia, according to IOM.