Image credit: IOM
Image credit: IOM

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports that migrant arrivals in Europe via the Mediterranean have surpassed 16,000 in 2018, less than half the number for the same period last year. So far in 2018, more than 520 migrants have died at sea.

The UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) says 16,089 migrants and refugees have arrived in Europe by sea since the start of the year through April 8. It says the majority arrived in Italy, with the rest in Spain, Greece, and Cyprus. The number is less than half of the 33,355 arrivals in the region in the same time period last year. 

Weekend rescue operation

The IOM's Rome spokesman, Flavio Di Giacomo, said that at the weekend only one rescue operation at sea was conducted, in which the Italian Coast Guard rescued a small boat with a total of 104 migrants, all of whom were Tunisian, off the coast of Lampedusa. According to Italian Interior Ministry figures, 6,894 migrants have arrived in Italy by sea so far this year, he said. In the same period last year, 26,902 migrants were brought to Italy having been rescued in waters north of Africa. Anna Dodevska, from IOM Spain, said 3,460 migrants had arrived in Spain through the Western Mediterranean as of April 8, 2018. 

Migrants continue to die at sea 

Despite the lower arrival numbers in Italy this year, the IOM said the number of dead and missing in the Central Mediterranean route had increased by 75% in proportion to the number of arrivals, even though the number had gone down in absolute terms (359 in 2018 compared to 745 in 2017). The IOM said the figure shows "the humanitarian emergency in the Mediterranean continues to be a dramatic reality, and saving lives at sea is still priority number one." 

Worldwide, the IOM's Missing Migrants Project (MMP) has registered 876 deaths and missing persons in migrant journeys in 2018. In the Mediterranean alone, it is estimated that 521 migrants have died this year. In the past ten days, the remains of four migrants have been recovered in the Western Mediterranean.

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