The NGO vessel Aquarius during an operation to rescue more than 250 migrants on a wooden boat on April 21, 2019 | Photo: EPA/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON
The NGO vessel Aquarius during an operation to rescue more than 250 migrants on a wooden boat on April 21, 2019 | Photo: EPA/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON

Migrant deaths on the three Mediterranean routes to Europe have decreased by nearly 50 percent compared to the same period last year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports. The number of migrants entering Europe via Greece and Spain accounts for about three-fourths of the regional total.

As of November 13, a total of 1,091 deaths have been registered on the three main Mediterranean routes to Europe. That's about 52% of the 2,117 deaths confirmed during the same period in 2018, the The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Monday. 

The IOM further reported that 91,568 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea in 2019 through November 13. That's an 11% decrease from the 103,347 arriving over the same period last year. 

Central Mediterranean most lethal route 

According to the UN agency, the central Mediterranean route (Italy and Malta) remains the deadliest for refugees and migrants with 695 deaths reported in 2019, although their number has significantly decreased compared to the 4,580 deaths registered in 2016. 

Moreover, 71 died in the eastern Mediterranean (Greece and Cyprus) over the same period. 

Another deadly route for refugees and migrants trying to reach Europe is the western Mediterranean one connecting northern Africa to Spain. Although the number of migrants reaching Spain every month has decreased compared to last year, the number of deaths registered on the western Mediterranean route remains high with 325 victims reported in the first 10 months of 2019 compared to 678 during the same period in 2018.

IOM highlights decrease in arrivals 

At the same time, IOM highlighted a decrease in arrivals: 22,343 migrants reached Spain compared to 50,440 last year. With the 50,371 arrivals registered by Greece, the total number of migrants who travelled to Greece and Spain (72,714) now accounts for about three-fourths of the regional total, the agency said. 

Refugees and migrants arrived in significantly smaller numbers to Italy, Malta and Cyprus. Arrivals this year to Italy were 9,944 as of November 13, compared to 22,518 over the same period in 2018. According to the agency's data, more than 8,300 migrants were intercepted at sea and taken back to Libya this year as of October 31.
 

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