Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 168,314 in 2017; Deaths Reach 3,115

Humanitarian Emergencies, Missing Migrants, Refugee and Asylum Issues

Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 168,314 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through 17 December, with just over 70 per cent arriving in Italy and the remainder divided between Greece, Cyprus and Spain. This compares with 358,527 arrivals across the region through the same period last year.

IOM Libya’s Christine Petré Monday reported IOM assisted 210 migrants’ returns home via chartered aircraft to Nigeria plus three commercial flights to Bangladesh, Pakistan and Kenya. Monday’s departures bring to 17,744 the total number of voluntary humanitarian returns from Libya in 2017.  With the agreement reached at last month’s EU-AU Summit in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, IOM has been able to assist 4,258 individuals through its expanded humanitarian returns programme, addressing acute vulnerabilities and working closely with consular officials from countries of origin.

IOM Spain’s Ana Dodevska reported that total arrivals at sea in 2017 are now at 20,693 men, women and children being rescued in Western Mediterranean waters. IOM’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP) reported Monday confirmation of several deaths in the Western Mediterranean: according to the testimonies of 20 survivors the Moroccan Navy rescued on 16 December, three people have gone missing off the coast of Morocco, as reported by local NGO Caminando Fronteras.

The MMP team also recorded the disappearance of three more migrants off the coast of Tangiers on 3 December, as has been reported by Watch the Med’s Alarm Phone. Additionally, IOM learned of an incident that took place off the coast of Algeria, where the remains of four young Algerians were recovered between 17 and 24 November near Mostaganem. These individuals reportedly drowned trying to reach Spain.

In the Central Mediterranean, three migrants died and an estimated five are missing after a boat they were using sank off Messida beach in El Kala, Algeria, on 8 December. Their destination is thought to have been Sardinia. Two bodies and four survivors were rescued by local civil protection teams on that day, while another body was found in a nearby beach on 10 December. These deaths bring the total of fatalities in the Mediterranean in 2017 to 3,115. That is about 60 per cent of 2016’s total at this point last year when Mediterranean Sea deaths of irregular migrants stood at 4,962.

On Monday (17 December) IOM Athens’ Kelly Namia reported on incidents off the islands of Lesvos and Samos that required search and rescue operations. The Hellenic Coast Guard managed to rescue some 112 migrants and transferred them to those respective islands.

Through 17 December, the total number of sea arrivals to Greek territory is 28,490 (see chart below).

Missing Migrants Project reported worldwide deaths have reached 5,347 people during migration in in 2017.

In addition to twenty new fatalities on the Mediterranean, MMP reported that on the US-Mexico border on 14 December, one migrant died of hypothermia in a ranch near Falfurrias, Texas. Since 1 December, at least fifteen migrants have died of hypothermia in Texas due to extremely low temperatures.

Also, the MMP team recorded the death of three Cambodian migrants in a vehicle accident in Chanthaburi, Thailand, on 25 November.
MMP data are compiled by IOM staff but come from a variety of sources, some of which are unofficial. To learn more about how data on missing migrants are collected, click here.

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For more information, please contact:
Joel Millman at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 79 103 8720, Email:
Mircea Mocanu, IOM Romania, Tel:  +40212115657, Email:
Dimitrios Tsagalas, IOM Cyprus, Tel: + 22 77 22 70, E-mail:
Flavio Di Giacomo, IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean, Italy, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email:
Hicham Hasnaoui at IOM Morocco, Tel: + 212 5 37 65 28 81, Email:
Kelly Namia, IOM Greece, Tel: +30 210 991 2174, Email:
Julia Black, IOM GMDAC, Berlin, Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email:
Christine Petré, IOM Libya, Tel: +216 29 240 448, Email:
Ana Dodevska, IOM Spain, Tel: +34 91 445 7116, Email:
Myriam Chabbi, IOM Tunisia, Tel: +216 71 860 312 ext. 109, Mobile: +216 28 78 78 05, Email: