By Sami Zaptia.
London, 22 July 2016:
Migration flows through Africa and into Libya remain unchanged after two years, despite progress in monitoring and policing migration traffic in Libya itself, the latest IOM report released today states.
IOM Libya Chief of Mission, Othman Belbeisi, noted this week that the Libyan Coast Guard is now providing regular data on migrants attempting to sail to Europe and that the Libyan Coast Guard has had some success in turning back boats.
IOM Libya has also been able to voluntarily repatriate large numbers of stranded migrants from Libyan detention centres to their countries of origin, mostly in West Africa.
Globally, the IOM reports that an estimated 242,179 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 up to 20 July, arriving mostly in Italy and Greece.
So far this year an estimated 2,977 deaths have been recorded, compared with 1,906 up to 30 July last year. These figures do not include thousands of migrants and refugees rescued on the Mediterranean during the past 48 hours, nor the recovery of nearly two dozen additional corpses believed to be en route to Italian ports Friday morning (22 July).
“Yesterday (21 July) there was a landing of 842 people,” IOM Rome spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo said Friday morning. “There was one corpse. On Saturday (23 July) a ship should arrive in Calabria with an additional 18 bodies on board. We still do not know what happened or how they died.”
Those deaths would bring to 2,996 the total IOM is estimating for this year’s casualties to date among migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean.
This suggests that for the third straight year IOM will have to report migration fatalities of at least 3,000 men, women and children on these dangerous sea routes.
This year the 3,000 mark will undoubtedly arrive months sooner than in either of the previous two years, states the report. According to research by IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, fatalities reached the 3,000 mark on 21 September in 2014 and on 15 October in 2015.
With over five months remaining on the 2016 calendar, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project notes that nearly 2,500 of this year’s fatalities occurred just in the past four months. “That’s an average of 20 deaths in the Mediterranean every day,” said Julia Black, an analyst with IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre based in Berlin.
According to Di Giacomo, some 4,200 migrants were rescued in the Channel of Sicily this past Tuesday and Wednesday. He added that according to official figures from Italy’s Ministry of the Interior, arrivals as of 21 July are at 84,052, a number nearly identical to the total last year at this time, when Italian authorities noted arrivals to date of 84,026.
It is this similarity of the totals on this, the Mediterranean’s central route, that are an indication that migration flows through Africa and into Libya remain unchanged after two years, despite progress in monitoring and policing migration traffic in Libya itself, the IOM report says.