Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 8,807 in 2018; Deaths Reach 411

Humanitarian Emergencies, Missing Migrants, Refugee and Asylum Issues

Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 8,807 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea through seven weeks of 2018. This compares with 13,156 arrivals across the region through the same period last year.

On Monday (19 February) IOM Rome reported official figures from Italy’s Ministry of Interior (MOI) show 4,864 irregular migrants have arrived by sea this year:  51.64 per cent lower than the total last year in the same period, when MOI figures show 10,057 arrived. (See chart below)

IOM’s Flavio Di Giacomo added 276 migrants were rescued on Sunday by the Italian Coast Guard and by the NGO Pro Activa Open Arms in three separate rescue operations. Migrants were being brought to Italian ports late Monday, Di Giacomo said.

IOM Greece’s Kelly Namia reported no landings of irregular migrants by sea during the days 13-14 February, or over the holiday weekend that ended Monday (19/02).

IOM Libya's Christine Petré reported that on Monday (19 February) IOM provided food and emergency medical assistance to 117 migrants, who had been returned to Libyan shores by the Libyan Coast Guard after attempting the journey to Italy across the Mediterranean Sea.

According to testimonies from survivors, she explained, these migrants embarked on their journey in the western coast city of Azzawya; their rubber boat started taking on water after six hours at sea. Among the migrants were five women, 84 men and 28 children (all males), as well as one pregnant woman.
IOM is following up with psychosocial support to the surviving migrants.

IOM Spain’s Ana Dodevska reported that total arrivals at sea in 2018 have reached 2,016 men, women and children who have been rescued in Western Mediterranean waters through 18 February, about twice the number arriving through this date in 2017. The 616 arrivals this month already have exceeded all those of the full months of February in each of the last three years (see charts below).

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

While arrivals on this western route are even fewer than those IOM is seeing off Greece, the western route is much more deadly. No reports of a migrant dying at sea have been reported on the Eastern Mediterranean route in 2018; the remains of 96 men, women and children have been recorded in the waters between North Africa and Spain this year.
This route is almost three times as lethal for migrants as it has been over the previous three years (see chart below).

Fatalities for all the Mediterranean through 18 February stand at 411 men, women and children – compared with 270 at this time last year, an increase of just over 50 per cent.

Most recently, seven deaths were recorded on the Western Mediterranean route between Algeria and Spain. The remains of three migrants were found off the coast of Ain Témouchent last week: on 14 February, the bodies of two Sub-Saharan young men were recovered in Plage de Sassel and Plage Sbiat, while one day after, on 15 February, another body was found near Plage Bouzedjar.

Remains of three more migrants were recovered west of Oran: on 15 February, two bodies were recovered from Plage des Andalouses; on 16 February another body was found in Plage de Madagh. On Saturday, 17 February, the remains of another migrant were found 10km off the coast of Chlef province, near Mostaganem.

In the past four weeks, 18 of some 96 people who have died trying to reach Spain from North Africa this year were found in or near Algerian coastal waters.

IOM Algeria Chief of Mission Pascal Reyntjens said: “The increase of the number of fatalities recorded and reported on the Algerian shores shows a drastic increase” says Pascal Reyntjens, Chief of Mission of IOM in Algeria. “The reasons behind this growing visibility needs to be further analyzed at this stage. While in the past, sea crossing of “harragas” were mainly taking place from the Eastern side of Algeria, it seems that recently there has been a shift towards the Western shores of the country.”

In terms of type of migrants, it appears that the majority are Algerian citizens, he explained, adding: “We cannot exclude that a new trend of irregular migration organized by smugglers will also allow other nationalities – such as sub Saharans – to attempt this dangerous crossing."

Worldwide, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP) has recorded 637 migrant fatalities in 2018 (see chart below).

The MMP team recorded three deaths on the US/Mexico border over the past few days. On 15 February, US Border Patrol agents discovered skeletal remains in a ranch in Brooks County, near Falfurrias, Texas. On 14 February, a 33-year-old Mexican national was found dead at the bottom of Pump Canyon in Val Verde County, Texas, near the border with Mexico. On 18 February, a young man drowned in the Río Bravo while attempting to reach the United States. His body was recovered from a small island in the river near Guerrero, Tamaulipas, by Mexican civil protection authorities.

In the area MMP designates as “Central America” – Mexico and the republics of Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama and Belize – one person was killed by a freight train, on 18 February near Atitalaquia, Mexico.
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, IOM Morocco, Tel: + 212 5 37 65 28 81, Email:
Kelly Namia, IOM Greece, Tel: +30 210 991 2174, Email:
Julia Black, IOM GMDAC, Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email:
Olivia Headon, IOM Libya, Tel: + +216510 84554 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 2878 7805, Email: