Deaths in the Mediterranean as migrants and refugees seek to reach Europe add up to 3120 so far in 2016, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on August 2.
IOM said that worldwide, its Missing Migrants Project has totalled 4027 migrant or refugee deaths thus far in 2016.
At this point last year, Missing Migrants Project tallied 2991 – which means that already in 2016 the world has witnessed over 1000 more fatalities than occurred in 2015’s first seven months, a 26 per cent increase. In 2014 IOM reported 2265 migrant or refugee fatalities by the end of July.
Deaths in the Mediterranean this year have reached 3120, with IOM Libya reporting 120 bodies discovered on the beaches of Sabratha in late July 2016. More than three-quarters of migrant deaths recorded thus far in 2016 have occurred in the Mediterranean, compared with 60 per cent during the period of January through August 2015.
In Europe, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has recorded 26 deaths during migration on land in 2016, slightly lower than the 31 recorded from January-July last year. However, the number of deaths during migration in Europe during the first seven months of both 2015 and 2016 are significantly higher than the nine deaths recorded in 2014, indicating that current policies may be increasing the risks migrants and asylum seekers face on their journeys, IOM said.
In North Africa, IOM reports 342 deaths during migration on land in 2016, over three times the number recorded in the same period in 2015. IOM data indicate an increase of migrant deaths due to violence by both smugglers and local authorities in North Africa. At least 30 migrants died due to violence this year, compared only three in the first seven months of 2015.
IOM reports 81 migrant deaths on land this year in the Middle East, compared with just two last year. Of these, 64 were of Syrian asylum seekers, reportedly shot by Turkish border guards. IOM’s Missing Migrants Project cites reports from Human Rights Watch and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights for these data.
IOM reports that 257 186 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 by July 27, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy, where over 24 000 new arrivals entered during the month of July.
For the third straight year IOM will report migration fatalities of at least 3000 men, women and children on these dangerous sea routes.
IOM Rome spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo said on August 2 that 7923 migrants were rescued at sea between July 29 and August 1.
He said that on Friday 3621 people were rescued; on Saturday 1144; on Sunday 1188; and on Monday 1970. Some of those rescued are still on their way to Italy.
Rescue operations were carried out by the Italian Navy, the Italian coastguard, ships operating under Triton and Eunavfor Med, and by the private ships Topaz Responder, (MOAS), Aquarius (SOS Mediterranée) and Dignity 1 (MSF).
Di Giacomo explained that even counting those rescued this past weekend, arrivals registered this year in Italy are virtually identical to those registered last year – 94 449 arrivals compared with 93 540 – a difference of about one per cent. By August 1, arrivals to Italy now total about 96 000.
Kelly Namia of IOM Athens said that 118 arrivals by sea were registered on July 29, and six arrivals on July 30. Total arrivals in Greece by July 31 added up to 160 233.
(Photo: H Murdock/VOA)