3/5/16 Greece - International Organization for Migration reports an estimated 184,546 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea in 2016, arriving in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain, through 1 May. Latest fatalities stand at 1,357, which includes reports of at least four deadly shipwrecks off Libya’s coast since last Friday (29 April). whose fatalities are estimated as 113 men, women and children according to witnesses who spoke to IOM staffers after arriving in Italy at Catania, Pozzallo, Lampedusa and Trapani
By comparison, deaths in 2015 through the end of April on all Mediterranean routes totalled 1,733, which was 27% greater than the 2016 total thus far. Arrivals through April 30 this year total just fewer than 184,000 - which compares with 2015’s total of 48,636 during the same four-month period. In other words, 2015 was much deadlier for migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean, with fatalities occurring at a rate of about one for every 28 arrivals, compared this year with one for every 136 arrivals.
IOM communications specialist Flavio Di Giacomo reports from Rome that on Friday a rubber dinghy was rescued by an Italian commercial ship, the “Villa Bianca,” a few hours after its departure from Sabrata, Libya. “The dinghy was taking in water, it was in very bad conditions,” Mr. Di Giacomo reported. “Many people had already fallen into sea and drowned. Migrants rescued totalled 26 people.”
He explained the survivors were taken aboard the commercial vessel, which then went returned to international waters, where other migrants were being transferred to two Italian Coast Guard ships which then brought them to Lampedusa.
Migrants told IOM staff at Lampedusa that initially there were 110 on board, which indicates that those still missing are 84. According to survivors’ testimony, sea conditions were very bad, with high waves. As the dinghy began to take on water ten people went overboard, followed by many others within minutes.
The migrants reportedly came from West Africa; among the 26 rescued are at least 2 women and 5 unaccompanied minors (16-17 years old). IOM learned that a woman with a new-born baby drowned. Another Nigerian girl (minor) told IOM that she had lost her sister.
According to info gathered by IOM Staff in Pozzallo and in Catania there were even more loss at sea during last weekend: 20 migrants drowned (2 corpses recovered) while crossing the Channel of Sicily on a rubber dinghy. Survivors of that wreck total 97. Migrants arriving in Catania on the 29 April told IOM that 9 people in their dinghy fell into the water and drowned. Approximately 480 migrants were rescued on Friday, while additional 249 were rescued Sunday by the Italian Coast Guard: they were on a wooden fishing boat.
Total number of arrivals in Italy since January is now 28,099 (the 249 migrants rescued yesterday are not included since they are still at sea.) IOM estimates that as of 30 April 2016 number of migrants arriving in Italy was 27,645. Last year, on 30 April 2015, arrivals were 26,228.
Numbers are therefore more or less in line with last year: for the moment the closure of the Balkan route and the EU/Turkey deal did not have any effect on the Central Mediterranean route: Syrians are not among the nationality registered this year in Italy, and the flows are mainly coming from Western Africa and the Horn of Africa.
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