International Organisation for Migration, IOM, has reported that 16,775 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 up until 26th February, with just over 80 percent of these arriving in Italy, and the rest in Greece and Spain. This compares with 124,986 in the first 57 days of 2016.
The IOM in Rome reported that 13,457 migrant arrivals in Italy before the end of February represents a significant increase compared with arrivals in the same period during each of the past two years. Last year just fewer than 9,000 migrants had arrived by this date. IOM noted that with two days left in the month, Italian arrivals already are well above those recorded during the first two months of either 2015 or 2016.
In its statement, IOM reported that deaths at sea in the region this year also are running well ahead of fatalities in 2016, especially on the Mediterranean’s central route linking Libya and Italy. IOM’s Missing Migrants Project reports an estimated 444 deaths or disappearances of migrants on this corridor up until 26th February, compared with 97 last year at this time, an increase of almost 400 percent.
The statement added, "Across the entire Mediterranean region, deaths at sea stand now at 485 men, women and children, compared with 425 at this time in 2016. Another factor in these statistics is that traffic between Turkey and Greece, which claimed 321 lives during the first 57 days of 2016, has virtually ceased. This year, IOM has recorded just two deaths on the Eastern Mediterranean route.
"IOM Libya reported on Monday that the bodies of 143 migrants have been recovered from Libyan beaches during the first 57 days of 2017. Just over 75 percent of those deaths occurred this month.
"IOM Libya also recorded this week the disappearance of 105 migrants on February 22nd, the same day as 13 bodies washed up in Al Khums, apparently from the same shipwreck. This brings the total number of dead recovered in Libyan waters this year to 248, or just over half the total of fatalities recorded in the Mediterranean so far this year."