An estimated 188 075 migrants and refugees had entered Europe by sea in 2016 by May 11, arriving in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on May 13.
The number of deaths so far in 2016 adds up to 1357. By comparison, by May 11 2015, the number of deaths was 1792, meaning that by that date this year the number was about 32 per cent lower.
Over the past two days, about 800 migrants have been rescued on the Central Mediterranean route between North Africa and Italy, including Egyptians, Sudanese, Somalis and a number of migrants from the Comoros Islands, the IOM said.
Migrant arrivals in Italy for all of 2016, including those still at sea scheduled to arrive in Italian ports on May 13, were close to 32 000, according to IOM Rome spokesperson Flavio di Giacomo. That compares to about 47 500 in the first five months of 2015.
“We are seeing that migrant flows have remained more or less stable during the first five months of 2016, compared to the same period last year,” Di Giacomo said. “The top nationalities arriving in Italy are also similar – mainly Sub-Saharan Africans.”
Initial reports suggested that the 800 migrants rescued over the past two days on the Central Mediterranean route included about 200 Syrians and Iraqis. Both nationalities used this route to reach Europe in 2015, but have been largely absent during 2016, preferring to travel through Turkey, Greece and the Balkans.
But on the morning of May 13, IOM staff monitoring their arrival in Italy reported that there were in fact just two passengers who claimed to be Syrians. These individuals may have been long-term residents of Egypt.
Despite a sharp drop in departures of Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans from Turkey to Greece, IOM said that it had yet to see any evidence that these nationalities are responding to the closure of the Balkan route by returning to the Central Mediterranean route and trying to reach Italy via Egypt or Libya.