Over 40,000 migrants have arrived in Europe so far this year, according to IOM. This is around half the number of arrivals in the same period in 2017. The UN migration agency reports that an estimated 857 people have died or went missing at sea in the same period.
IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 40,073 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea through the first 24 weeks of 2018. That total compares to 80,683 at this time last year, and over 215,000 at this time in 2016.
In other words: Mediterranean arrivals are therefore currently running at under half last year's level. Deaths, too, are much lower than at comparable periods of the past two years: in 2017, IOM's Missing Migrants Project reported 2,106 deaths through 19 June; at this time in 2016 the figure was 2,999 - or over three times 2018's estimated total of 857.
Surge of activity in Spanish waters in June
Last weekend saw a surge of activity in Spanish waters, which so far this year have seen the arrival of 12,063 men, women and children, reports IOM Madrid's Ana Dodevska. Spanish arrivals to 19 June were nearly 4,000, by far the heaviest volume of the year so far. The new arrivals include the 629 people who were travelling on board the Aquarius.
IOM Greece's Antigoni Avgeropoulou has reported that over five days (13-17 June) the Hellenic Coast Guard reported at least seven incidents requiring search and rescue operations off the islands of Lesvos and Samos. The Hellenic Coast Guard rescued 137 migrants off the island of Samos and 100 migrants off the island of Lesvos, and transferred them to those respective islands.
In addition, 191 irregular migrants arrived during the five days in Chios, Rhodes, Oinouses and Kos, bringing to 12,353 the total number of irregular migrants entering Greece via sea since 1 January - an average of around 74 persons per day.
Mediterranean dangerous for irregular migrants
So far this year an estimated 857 migrants have died during the perilous sea crossing to Europe. In the Central Mediterranean, the NGO Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) reported that two people went missing in the rescue conducted by the Aquarius ship off the coast of Libya on the night of 9 June.
MSF staff interviewed survivors and learned that two young men, a Senegalese and a Nigerian, were lost at sea during a complicated rescue in which one of the boats broke apart. On 12 June, the US Navy ship "Trenton" rescued 41 people from a boat in distress off the coast of Libya, and observed approximately 12 bodies in the water which could not be recovered during the rescue operation. Further, at least 48 people have died in the Western Mediterranean since last Thursday.