Humanitarian Emergencies, Missing Migrants
Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 91,093 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2018 through 17 October, with 42,494 to Spain, the leading destination this year. In fact, since late September’s arrivals were reported, Spain in 2018 has now received via the Mediterranean more irregular migrants than it did throughout all the years 2015, 2016 and 2017 combined.
The region’s total arrivals through the recent weekend compare with 145,193 arrivals across the region through the same period last year, and 320,033 at this point in 2016.
Spain, with almost 47 per cent of all arrivals through the year, continues to receive seaborne migrants in October at a volume more than twice that of Greece and nearly seven times that of Italy.
Italy’s arrivals of irregular migrants by sea this year through mid-October are at their lowest recorded in almost five years – just 21,766 arrivals. That’s fewer than the 27,384 who arrived in a single month two Octobers ago (see chart below).
This month, arrivals have been coming at a rate of about 325 migrants per week. Last October, migrants crossed from North Africa to Italy at a rate of nearly 1,500 per week – or almost five times this year’s rate. Two Octobers ago, the numbers were even higher: almost 4,000 per week.
IOM’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP) has documented the deaths of 1,852 people on the Mediterranean in 2018, compared with 2,833 at this time in 2017 and 3,709 in 2016.
Most recently, the MMP team recorded the deaths of 13 people in the Western Mediterranean route linking North Africa to Spain. Between 10 and 15 October, the remains of eight people were recovered at different locations off the coast of Oran, in Algeria. Among those eight victims: the bodies of three Sub-Saharan African men were found 70km off Cap Falcon on 10 and 11 October, while the remains of another man were retrieved off Marsat El Hadjadj on 11 October.
A day later, on 12 October, fishermen recovered the remains of a woman and a three-year-old child near Cap Falcon. The body of a 35-year-old Sub-Saharan African man was retrieved on 14 October near Arzew, while the remains of a woman washed ashore at Bousfer beach on 15 October. These remains are not associated with any known shipwreck.
Separately, on 12 October, a boat carrying 17 Algerian youth capsized off the municipality of Stidia, in Algeria’s province of Mostaganem. Civil protection authorities rescued 13 survivors and retrieved the body of a young man, while three remain missing. In Morocco, 38 people were rescued; one body was recovered by the Moroccan Navy on 15 October, after having spent over a week adrift at sea.
Those deaths in the Western Mediterranean bring to 433 the total number of those drowned or considered missing on this route. This is nearly twice the total for all of 2017, when 224 men, women and children were reported lost, migrating irregularly from Africa to Europe.
On Thursday IOM Spain’s Ana Dodevska reported that total arrivals at sea in 2018 have reached 42,494 men, women and children who have been rescued in Western Mediterranean waters through 17 October (see chart below).
IOM notes that over this year’s first five months, a total of 8,150 men, women and children were rescued in Spanish waters after leaving Africa – an average of 54 per day. In the 139 days since May 31, a total of 34,344 have arrived – or just under 250 migrants per day. Arrivals in October are running at a rate of almost 300 per day (see charts below).
IOM Greece’s Antigoni Avgeropoulou reported on Thursday (18/10) that over three days this week (15-17 October), the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) informed the United Nations Migration Agency it was involved in at least seven incidents requiring search and rescue operations off the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos and Kos. The HCG rescued a total of 313 migrants and transferred them to those respective islands.
Those arrivals plus 94 more to Kos, Symi and Rhodes bring to 25,319 the total number of arrivals by sea to Greece through 17 October (see chart below).
IOM’s western Balkans team reported on Thursday some 2,537 irregular migrants have been registered in Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the first two weeks of October, seven times more than the 357 registered during the whole October 2017 and close to the overall number of migrants and refugees registered in the respective countries between January and December 2017 (2,272).
IOM reports 74 per cent of migrants were registered in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where, since the beginning of the year, authorities reported 18,628 new irregular migrants – 16 times more than the 1,166 registered in the whole of 2017. Part of the migrants and refugees who arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina did so after spending a certain amount of time in Serbia, Greece and Turkey (see chart below).
However, for a better understanding of the scale of the movement, it would be worth mentioning that total arrivals to Bosnia this year are almost half of the overall land and sea arrivals registered in Greece in the respective period (38,797). According to the available information on nationalities, one third of migrants registered in Bosnia are Pakistani nationals (34%), followed by those from the Islamic Republic of Iran (16%), the Syrian Arab Republic (12%), Iraq (9%) and more than 64 different nationality groups.
In Albania and Montenegro, Syrian nationals comprised the majority (53% and 44% respectively), followed by those who arrived from Pakistan (18% and 12% respectively), Algeria and Iraq (both 8%) in Montenegro, and Iraq (9%) in Albania. The differences in the nationality structure of registered migrants between the three countries are explained by the fact that migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina also enter from Serbia (especially migrants from the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan) and that certain groups of migrants from Montenegro continue not only toward Bosnia and Herzegovina but toward Serbia as well.
Available Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) flow monitoring data for Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia also indicate increased movement of irregular migrants to/through these countries. Between January and 17 October 2018, there were 6,291 newly registered migrants in the reception centres across Serbia. This is a 28 per cent increase compared to the 4,554 registered in the same period last year, and slightly more than the 5,676 registered in the whole of 2017.
More than half of all registered migrants in Serbia as of 30 September declared Pakistani origin (58%), another 12 per cent were from the Islamic Republic of Iran, followed by nine per cent of migrants from Afghanistan, six per cent from Iraq and six per cent of Bangladeshi nationals.
In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, authorities reported the arrival of 2,846 irregular migrants as of 17 October, five times the 547 reported in the whole of 2017. Available information on nationalities, as of end of September, indicates that the Islamic Republic of Iran is the most commonly reported origin country declared by 56 per cent of the registered migrants. Afghan nationals comprise another 11 per cent, Pakistani nationals, 10 per cent and Iraqi, six per cent.
IOM’s Missing Migrants Project estimates that at least 2,948 people died or went missing on migratory routes across the globe in 2018 (see chart below).
Since the beginning of the year, the Missing Migrants Project team has documented the deaths of 334 migrants on the US-Mexico border, a 16 per cent increase over the 281 deaths recorded during the same period in 2017. The team included information received from the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, which reported the recovery of remains belonging to 25 people during the months of August and September 2018. Additionally, two more recent deaths were documented on the Río Bravo crossing: two migrants died on 10 and 11 October while attempting to cross into Texas, their remains were recovered on the US side of the river by US Border Patrol officers.
Another death was reported on 17 October on the Colorado River, which defines about 39km of the US-Mexico border where the US states of California and Arizona meet their southern neighbour. There, the remains of a 21-year-old Mexican man were recovered on the Mexican side, near Ciudad Morelos in the Mexico state of Baja California. Those three drownings bring to 93 the total of drowning deaths on the border in 2018. There were 103 drowning deaths reported by MMP through all of last year.
The lack of safe and legal migration options pushes hundreds of Central American migrants to make their way across Mexico to the US border hopping freight trains, risking death or injury. Recently, two Honduran men fell from a cargo train and died near the municipality of Celaya, in Mexico’s state of Guanajuato. Those deaths bring to 35 the total number of rail deaths in the region so far in 2018. Last year MMP recorded 47 such deaths.
More than 1.6 million Venezuelans have left their country since 2015, 90 per cent of them to countries within South America. Although various sources suggest displaced Venezuelans are dying or going missing on their journey to other South American countries, the scale of deaths is challenging to enumerate. Recently, the deaths of three people were reported on the Táchira river, at the border between Colombia and Venezuela. Only two bodies were recovered on the Venezuelan side, near the town of Bolívar.
Missing Migrants Project data are compiled by IOM staff 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.
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