Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 7,795 in 2018; Deaths Reach 390

Humanitarian Emergencies, Missing Migrants, Refugee and Asylum Issues

Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 7,795 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea through the first five and a half weeks of 2018, with about 60 per cent arriving in Italy and the remainder divided between Greece and Spain, both at roughly 20 per cent. This compares with 12,217 arrivals across the region through the same period last year.


On Monday (5 February) IOM Rome reported Italy’s official Ministry of Interior figures indicate some 4,723 migrants arrived by sea to Italy this year, which represents a steep decline compared to the 9,354 arrivals recorded during the same period last year.

After tracking January arrivals similar to those of 2017 and 2016 (see chart, below) through the first week of February Italian authorities have recorded just 541 arrivals in February 2018, considerable fewer than came in during the same months of earlier years.


IOM Greece’s Kelly Namia reported Thursday that over three days, 4-6 February, the Hellenic Coast Guard reported at least one incident on Tuesday (06/02) requiring search and rescue operations off the island of Kos, where the Coast Guard rescued 45 migrants and transferred them to that island.

Namia reported that on the previous Monday another 27 migrants arrived on Lesvos, the only other report of landings since Sunday. These landings bring the total to 1,573 since January 1, for an average of just under 44 persons per day.

IOM Spain’s Ana Dodevska reported that total arrivals at sea in 2018 have reached 1,400 men, women and children who have been rescued in Western Mediterranean waters through January with an additional 88 reaching Spain during February’s first week.

Dodevska also shared the following data from Spain’s Ministry of Interior for Sea Arrivals since 2015:

Dodevska on Monday added that Helena Maleno, a Spanish migration activist residing in Morocco and spokesperson of the NGO Caminando Fronteras, reported via Twitter that there were 47 migrants travelling in a small boat, believed to be the party that included these known victims. They were from Mali, Guinea (Conakry). They remain missing as of Tuesday morning.

Additionally, the Guardia Civil and Salvamento Maritimo have launched a search of another small boat in the waters of the Strait of Gibraltar. A search began after the alert of a non-governmental organization, which reported the presence of a boat near the Strait of Gibraltar.  According to the media agency EFE there were 10 migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa travelling on this boat.

Since the start of December, the Western Mediterranean has been the deadliest of all Mediterranean routes, with over 100 deaths at sea over the past 10 weeks. Total deaths in the Mediterranean in 2018 now stand at 390 through 7 February, compared with 258 same time last year.

In the Central Mediterranean, IOM Libya’s Christine Petré shared an update on rescue/interception activity along Libya’s coastline. IOM Libya reported 2,046 men, women and children were brought in from thwarted smuggling vessels during the month of January, an increase of more than three times over January 2017 activity (see chart below).

IOM Libya’s maritime update for January also has details of the rescues, in which nearly 200 children were returned to shore.

IOM Libya this week also reported 2,178 migrants returned by IOM from Libya to their home countries. Returnees this past week went to four countries – Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon and the Comoros – bringing to 8,042 the number of returnees since 28 November 2017, when IOM began its scale up flights from Libya.

Worldwide, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has recorded 549 migrant fatalities in 2018. Most recently, one migrant died and three were injured in a vehicle accident in a highway near Tanger-Med cargo port in Morocco, near the border with Ceuta, on 2 February.

On the US-Mexico border, two migrants drowned when crossing the Río Bravo over the weekend: on 3 February, the US Border Patrol recovered a body near Hidalgo, Texas, while on 5 February, Mexican civil protection authorities found the remains of a man near Hidalgo Bridge in Reynosa, Tamaulipas.

Seven people have drowned in the Río Bravo since the start of the year.

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.

Latest Mediterranean Update infographic 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 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, Germany, Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email:
Olivia Headon, IOM Libya, Tel: + +216 51 084 554 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: