IOM: Mediterranean migrants reach 63,142, deaths 1,527

Migrants rescued in Mediterranean
Migrants rescued in Mediterranean. Image courtesy United Nations.

IOM reports 2018 migrant drownings in Mediterranean occurring at rate of seven per day, with the central Mediterranean route the most dangerous.

According to a 17 August IOM press release, 63,142 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2018 through 16 August, with 26,350 to Spain, the leading destination this year. This compares with 119,137 arrivals across the region through the same period last year, and 266,423 at this point in 2016.

Spain popular

Spain, with 42 per cent of all arrivals through the year, continues to receive seaborne migrants in July at a volume more than three times that of Greece and almost five times that of Italy. Italy’s arrivals through mid-July are the lowest recorded at this point of a summer sailing season in almost five years.

In data released by Italy’s Ministry of the Interior on nationalities of migrants coming irregularly from Africa in 2018, Tunisians continue to comprise the largest group with just over 300 arriving in July. Eritrea, in second place, also added about 300 new arrivals in July, and Sudan added fewer than 100 arrivals.

“We have noted for several months now the steep decline in departures from Libya by Sub-Saharan Africans, particularly from sender nations like Guinea, Mali and Côte d’Ivoire,” said Joel Millman, an IOM spokesman in Geneva. “These latest figures indicate the trend is becoming more pronounced. Even Nigerians seem to be cutting back their migration through Libya.”

IOM’s Christine Petré reported that on 9 August, IOM assisted 167 stranded migrants to return home on one chartered flight to the Côte d’Ivoire and three commercial flights to Cameroon, Djibouti and Burkina Faso. On 13 August, 16 stranded migrants were able to go home to Egypt, six to Ethiopia and one to Sudan, via three commercial flights.

As of 13 August, IOM Libya has assisted 17,542 returnees since the scale-up phase started 28 November 2017. A total of 30,674 migrants have returned home from Libya with IOM’s assistance since 1 January 2017.

Italy route deadliest

IOM’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP) reported that 1,527 migrants have lost their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea in 2018, or almost seven per day. Over two thirds of those deaths occurred on the Central Mediterranean route between Libya and Italy, even though fewer than a third of all migrant departures have been along that route.

On 10 August, the Spanish rescue services saved 66 people and recovered one body from a sinking boat off the coast of Cabo de Gata, Almería. Survivors reported that one more person went missing.

It is worth noting that 2018 deaths of migrants on this Western Mediterranean route – 311 through 15 August – have barely increased despite this summer’s arrivals surge.

Through the end of May, with 8,150 migrants arriving via this route, 238 migrants perished in the Western Mediterranean – or more than all recorded fatalities in 2017 (224 drownings). Since 1 June, 73 migrants have been reported lost, despite a total of 18,200 arriving over the same period.

IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has documented the deaths worldwide of 2,390 people during migration to international destinations in 2018.

For more statistics visit

BM&TS Europe 2019 banner

Current Issue