A total of 1370 migrants and refugees had died on Mediterranean routes to Europe by May 21 2016, a figure 24 per cent lower than the same period last year, the International Organization for Migration said.
IOM said on May 24 that an estimated 191 134 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 by May 21, arriving in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain.
It was notable that a total of just 13 fatalities have been reported in May 2016 in just three incidents, none occurring on the eastern Mediterranean route between Turkey and Greece, where in the first four months of 2016, nearly 400 migrants and refugees drowned.
The deaths in May 2016 include at least 10 people believed to have drowned off Sardinia on Saturday, part of a voyage that IOM believes left from Algeria. Additionally two bodies were recovered this month off Egypt and one body was found off Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta.
By contrast, nearly 330 migrants and refugees drowned in the Mediterranean during May 2014, and a further 95 died in May 2015.
In the first five months of 2015, IOM reported 1828 migrants or refugees missing or drowned at sea. This year’s total up to May 22 indicates that migrant fatalities may at last be declining, in part due to stepped up vigilance on both the North African and Turkish coasts, IOM said.
IOM Rome said that 2725 migrants attempting to reach Italy from Libya were rescued at sea over the past 24 hours. A further 850 migrants were turned back after being intercepted by the Libyan authorities. Several hundred rescued migrants and refugees were due to arrive in Italian ports on May 24.
(Photo: Marina Militare)