Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 4,742 in 2018; Deaths Reach 206

Humanitarian Emergencies, Missing Migrants, Refugee and Asylum Issues

Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 4,742 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea through 25 January. This compares with 3,831 coming ashore during a similar period in 2017. Italy accounts for approximately 57 per cent of the total, with the remainder split between Spain (24 per cent) and Greece (19 per cent).

IOM Libya’s Olivia Headon reported that eight Sudanese migrants – who were depicted in videos that went viral last weekend showing them being tortured and begging their families to send money to smugglers to save their lives – were released and are now in a hospital.

Libyan Special Forces secured the release of the migrants following an investigation by the Libyan authorities. Headon reported that IOM is assessing the situation to see how best to assist in terms of ensuring that the migrants receive appropriate medical assistance.

“They all have second degree burns and we are in touch with the hospital management where the group are to ensure that they receive much needed treatment and that they have enough medical supplies. Once our team has met with the group, they will assess each individual’s case and if needed refer them to our colleagues in UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency,” said Headon.

IOM refers cases in need of international protection to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

IOM Athens’ Kelly Namia reported Thursday that between 20 and 24 January Greek authorities indicate no new arrivals of migrants or refugees via sea, continuing what has been a rather steep decline in irregular arrivals on the Eastern Mediterranean route that began almost two years ago (see chart below).

IOM Greece also shared on Thursday the 2017 figures on irregular migrants' nationalities as reported by Greece’s Hellenic Coast Guard regarding the remarkable geographic range of migrants detected by authorities entering the country by sea for each month of the last year.

As has been the case for recent years, Syrians, with 12,311 migrants, were the top entering group, followed by Iraqis (5,818) and Afghans (2,891). Other large senders included Pakistan (983), Palestine (689), Iran (689) and Cameroon (547). Congo, with 1,075 migrants, remains a strong sender to Europe via the eastern Mediterranean Sea route, as are Algeria (840) and Morocco (351). Somalis totaled 228, while there were 201 migrants from Yemen.

Some unexpected senders included Kuwait (473), the Comoros Islands (8) and a handful of Latin American countries, led by the Dominican Republic (97), Haiti (15), Colombia (9), Bolivia (5) and Brazil (1). Greek authorities also reported 174 irregular migrants from Turkey (see chart below).

IOM Spain’s Ana Dodevska reported Thursday total land and sea arrivals of irregular migrants through the month’s first 24 days have topped 1,340 including 216 land border crossings at the African enclave of Melilla.

Since the last IOM report on Friday (19 January), the Organization’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP) added five more deaths in the Mediterranean to bring this month’s total to date to 206. At this time last January, IOM had reported the deaths on the Mediterranean of 244 men, women and children.

On 21 January, the remains of one migrant were retrieved near Qarapoli, Libya by local fishermen. In the Western Mediterranean, three migrants died on 23 January after their boat sank while trying to reach Spain although the Moroccan Navy rescued 57 survivors and brought them to Nador, Morocco. On the same day, another shipwreck took place off the coast of Aïn El Turk near Oran, Algeria. Eleven survivors were rescued by local civil protection authorities, but a 3-year-old girl remains missing.

Worldwide, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP) has recorded the deaths of 349 people during migration this year (see chart below).

On Thursday, IOM Yemen reported that over 30 migrants and refugees drowned on 23 January in an incident off the coast of Arah in Lahj Governorate, Yemen. Around 176 migrants (170 Ethiopians and 46 Somalis) were traveling on a boat that left Al Buraiqa district in Aden and was heading towards the Djiboutian shores. During a transfer to another boat off the coast of Arah, several people fell into the sea and drowned: over 30 bodies have been pulled from the water, but there are fears the death toll could rise further.

On the US/Mexico border, a woman drowned while trying to cross the Río Bravo near Nuevo Laredo in Tamaulipas, Mexico on 23 January. In Central America, a migrant was found dead on 24 January after being hit by a freight train near Ciudad Guzmán in Jalisco, Mexico.

In the Middle East, the body of a Syrian woman was found near the Masna’a border crossing in eastern Lebanon on Tuesday, 23 January. The forensic examination determined that the woman had died roughly a month ago. In this border area, 16 Syrian refugees lost their lives last weekend due to hypothermia.

Missing Migrants Project 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.

The latest Mediterranean Update infographic is available here.
For latest arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean, please visit:
Learn more about the Missing Migrants Project at:

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, IOM Morocco, Tel: + 212 5 37 65 28 81, Email:
Kelly Namia, IOM Greece, Tel: +30 210 991 2174, Email:
Julia Black, IOM GMDAC, Germany, Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email:
Olivia Headon, IOM Libya, Tel: +41794035365, 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: